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Bioarchaeological analysis of one of the earliest Islamic burials in the Levant

By Megha Srigyan, Héctor Bolívar, Irene Ureña, Jonathan Santana, Andrew Petersen, Eneko Iriarte, Mattias Jakobsson, Colin Smith, Juan José Ibañez, Anders Götherström, Torsten Gunther, Cristina Valdiosera

Posted 03 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.03.281261

The Middle East plays a central role in human history harbouring a vast diversity of ethnic, cultural and religious groups. However, much remains to be understood about past and present genomic diversity in this region. Here, we present for the first time, a multidisciplinary bioarchaeological analysis of two individuals dated to late 7th and early 8th centuries from Tell Qarassa, an open-air site in modern-day Syria. Radiocarbon dates, religious and cultural burial evidence indicate that this site represents one of the earliest Islamic Arab burials in the Levant during the Late Antiquity period. Interestingly, we found genomic similarity to a genotyped group of modern-day Bedouins and Saudi rather than to most neighbouring Levantine groups. This is highlighted through substantial Neolithic Levant ancestry in our samples, inviting an alternative scenario of long-term continuity in this region. This raises questions about the influence of ancient populations and historical migrations to genetic structure in the Middle East. As our study represents the first genomic analysis of an early Islamic burial in the Levant, we discuss our findings and possible historic scenarios in light of forces such as genetic drift and their possible interaction with religious and cultural processes. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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