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

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posted on 22.06.2022, 04:31 authored by Megha Srigyan, Hector Bolivar, Irene Urena, Jonathan Santana, Andrew Petersen, Eneko Iriarte, Emrah Kirdok, Nora Bergfeldt, Alice MoraAlice Mora, Mattias Jakobsson, Khaled Abdo, Frank Braemer, Colin SmithColin Smith, Juan Jose Ibanez, Anders Gotherstrom, Torsten Gunther, Cristina ValdioseraCristina Valdiosera
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 a multidisciplinary bioarchaeological analysis of two individuals dated to the late 7th and early 8th centuries, the Umayyad Era, from Tell Qarassa, an open-air site in modern-day Syria. Radiocarbon dates and burial type are consistent with one of the earliest Islamic Arab burials in the Levant. Interestingly, we found genomic similarity to a genotyped group of modern-day Bedouins and Saudi rather than to most neighbouring Levantine groups. This study represents the genomic analysis of a secondary use site with characteristics consistent with an early Islamic burial in the Levant. We discuss our findings and possible historic scenarios in the light of forces such as genetic drift and their possible interaction with religious and cultural processes (including diet and subsistence practices).


This work was funded by a grant from the Royal Physiographic Society of Lund (Nilsson-Ehle Endowments) to T.G. and C.V. and the La Trobe Internal Research grants to C.V. M.S. was part of the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in Evolutionary Biology (MEME). C.V. is supported by a Ramon y Cajal grant (RYC2018-025223-I). T.G. is supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsradet (2017-05267). M.J. and A.G. were supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsradet and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation. J.S. is supported by a grant from Marie Skodowska-Curie Actions (European Commission, no. GA 750460; H2020-MSCA-IF-2016) and a Ramon y Cajal grant (RYC2019-028346-I). The archaeological research at Tell Qarassa was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (grant HAR2016-74999-P) and the Palarq Foundation. The authors would like to thank Nikolay Oskolkov, Claudio Mirabello and Per Unneberg from the National Bioinformatics Infrastructure of Sweden (NBIS) for their assistance with KrakenUniq, Pathogenome databases and metagenomic workflows. We thank Arielle R. Munters for initial data processing and Carolina Bernhardsson for assistance with the diploid genotype calls. The computations were performed on resources provided by SNIC through Uppsala Multidisciplinary Center for Advanced Computational Science (UPPMAX) under projects sllstore2017020 and 2018/8-150. Shotgun sequencing was performed at the National Genomics Infrastructure (NGI) Stockholm. We also thank Phillip Edwards for valuable comments on the manuscript and Christina Warinner for discussion.


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Communications Biology





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Springer Nature



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