Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Twitter account blew up in July in the wake of an extraordinary tweet: A new study of DNA recovered from an ancient Philistine site in the Israeli city of Ashkelon confirms what we know from the Bible that the origin of the Philistines is in southern Europe. ... The Palestinians connection to the Land of Israel is nothing compared to the 4,000 year connection that the Jewish people have with the land.
Netanyahu, like the hundreds of people who replied to the tweet, interpreted the study as overwhelming proof of Jewish ownership of the Land of Israel and proof that the Philistines who share an etymological history with the Palestinians were new immigrants, having arrived here just 3,000 years ago. Officials from the Palestinian Authority were quick to say that Palestinians are the descendants not of the Philistines but rather of the Canaanite Jebusites, who were ostensibly the original inhabitants of the land.
Netanyahus tweet came a few days after the publication in the magazine Science advances of a study by researchers from Germanys Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the Leon Levy Expedition. The researchers sampled DNA from 10 skeletons found in Ashkelon and concluded that their gene pool came from southern Europe. The finding supports the accepted theory that the Philistines migrated from the area of Greece and settled along what is today Israels southern Mediterranean coast.
The studys authors, however, were infuriated by the prime ministers tweets. They considered responding but decided it might give the tweets more exposure. Netanyahus political spin on the research upset many scholars, who saw it as an example of the danger inherent in bringing genetics into the study of human history. Critics fear that used incautiously, genetic research not only has the potential to distort history but also can become a tool for racist propaganda in the hands of extremist politicians and groups.
The ability to extract and sequence DNA from samples that are thousands and even hundreds of thousands of years old has led to significant breakthroughs in the study of evolution. By sequencing Neanderthal genomes, scientists have learned about the health, physical appearance and settlement patterns of Neanderthals. Even more important, DNA research led to the discovery of formerly unknown hominids. The most famous being the Denisovans, which was discovered only thanks to a single finger bone found in a cave in Siberia, from which its owners genome was sequenced. The researchers were also able to determine that most modern human beings carry genes from Neanderthals, Denisovans and additional, as-yet unidentified hominids.
These successes led researches to apply genetic tools to later periods, and according to some critics that is where the danger lies. A study published last week in Science Magazine of 4,000-year-old graves in southern Germany determined, using DNA and as well as the objects with which their occupants were buried that the wealthiest men were locals. Poor men, servants and most of the women came from elsewhere, and most of the high-status women were apparently sent to other communities. One can only manage the political conclusions that could be drawn from the study.
We've got more newsletters we think you'll find interesting.
Please try again later.
The email address you have provided is already registered.
The problem isnt with the research itself, says Raphael Greenberg, a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University. Say I want to know about the connection between the Levant and the Greek region. I have various ways to examine it: pottery, inscriptions, symbols, language, and now something new has been added to my arsenal. Thats great, no one will deny that its useful. The problem is that DNA research has an element of magic to it. Only a few laboratories carry out these tests, at very high cost, and no one can argue with them, Greenberg says. He adds that their operators dont make do with presenting their findings; they go on to interpret the results. He believes that DNA researchers should leave conjectures about population migrations to the relevant experts.
The disagreement surrounding Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past, by Harvard geneticist David Reich, illustrates Greenbergs argument. Reich is considered the most important researcher in the area of ancient DNA, but his critics attack him for reducing complex historical process into simplified sound bites. He has lost some of the soul of what archaeology and sociology are, wrote Anna Linderholm of Texas A&M University in a review published in Current Anthropology. With his investigations he is painting with large brushstrokes a picture of our past, and in doing so, he might be missing some of the finer points. Who we are is much more than the genetics.
Critics argue that genetics alone cannot tell the complex story of the exchange of genetic material between two population groups, which involves not only migrations but also trade, war and the taking of male and female prisoners.
Gene sequencing, says Prof. Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa, is a completely new tool whose potential we dont yet understand.... The danger is in making the connection between genetics and cultural. Its absolutely forbidden and borders on racism.
My granny was a Philistine
The dispute over the archaeological use of DNA is part of a broader discussion. Last year Reich published an opinion piece in The New York Times in which he argued that scientists should stop denying the existence of genetic differences between human population groups, rather than viewing race as entirely a social construct with no biological basis.
It is important to face whatever science will reveal without prejudging the outcome and with the confidence that we can be mature enough to handle any findings. Arguing that no substantial differences among human populations are possible will only invite the racist misuse of genetics that we wish to avoid, Reich wrote.
In an open letter produced by a group of 67 scientists and researchers and published on BuzzFeed, they attacked Reichs approach and warned against returning to a racial-genetic understanding of humanity.
Human beings are 99.5% genetically identical.... [Y]ou could genotype all Red Sox fans and all Yankees fans and find that one group has a statistically significant higher frequency of a number of particular genetic variants than the other group.... This does not mean that Red Sox fans and Yankees fans are genetically distinct races, they wrote.
Michal Feldman, an Israeli geneticist who works at the Max Planck Institute, was the lead author on the article on the skeletons from Ashkelon. Were trying to be cautious in our research and also in our press releases, and to explain exactly what we found, she says. We said we saw a genetic component that came from southern Europe, but that it disappeared after 200 years despite the fact that culturally they were still Philistines. Feldman agrees that the genetics must be separated from culture. Theres no such thing as a pure population or separate groups. Only a tiny part of the genome, 0.01 percent, attests to the origin, and most of the genes within that part are of no importance.
Nimrod Marom, an archaeo-zoologist at the University of Haifa, says the danger is of reducing the discussion to the question, Where did your mother come from?. He says that DNA research is more interested in the origin of the Philistines grandmother than in the way he lived here. In the end it doesnt say much about me and doesnt say much about anyone, he says. We get annoyed today when thats done to us, when we are categorized according to where we came from, so theres no reason not to be annoyed when its done to people from other periods.
Greenberg also believes that the danger of reductionism in genetic studies is much greater than getting an inaccurate picture of the past. We object to these classifications in our daily lives, we dont want to be defined by something that we dont see and have no control over. We want to say who we are by what we think and what we identify with. This method expropriates our identify from us. It says your identity isnt your religion and it isnt the food that you like, its what we tell you it is. Theres not really any such thing as the original inhabitants of this land.
Read more from the original source:
- human genetics | Description, Chromosomes, & Inheritance ... - May 19th, 2020
- Human genetics - Wikipedia - May 19th, 2020
- COVID-19 Pandemic: Global Risks of More Complex Character and the Visions of the Future World - Valdai Discussion Club - May 19th, 2020
- Rothamsted turn to harvesting coronavirus data - Lab News - May 19th, 2020
- Complement genes add to sex-based vulnerability in lupus and schizophrenia - UAB News - May 19th, 2020
- DU to set up School of Public Health - The Indian Express - May 19th, 2020
- Covid-19 research: 45 Bengaluru startups working on medicine, testing methods and vaccine - Economic Times - May 19th, 2020
- Immortalized Cell Line Market Development, Trends, Key Driven Factors, Segmentation And Forecast to 2020-2026 - Cole of Duty - May 19th, 2020
- Worlds Shortest Population Reveal the Largest Genetic Contributor to Height - Technology Networks - May 15th, 2020
- Group of Genes Have Altered Expression in Autism - Technology Networks - May 15th, 2020
- Why can two young and healthy individuals be affected so differently by coronavirus? - Health24 - May 15th, 2020
- Amgen To Present At The Bank Of America Merrill Lynch Virtual Global Healthcare Conference - BioSpace - May 15th, 2020
- Viewpoint: Darwin's 'Descent of Man' is both deeply disturbing and more relevant than ever - Genetic Literacy Project - May 15th, 2020
- Study Finds Low Proportion of Individuals With Autism Receive Recommended Genetic Tests - Technology Networks - May 15th, 2020
- Cats can catch Covid-19 from other cats. The question is: Can we? - STAT - May 15th, 2020
- Deficient Expression of DGCR8 in Human Testis is Related to Spermatoge | IJGM - Dove Medical Press - May 15th, 2020
- Prevail Therapeutics Reports First Quarter 2020 Financial Results and Business Highlights - GlobeNewswire - May 15th, 2020
- Fulcrum Therapeutics, Inc. (FULC) Q1 2020 Earnings Call Transcript - The Motley Fool - May 15th, 2020
- Scientists concerned that coronavirus is adapting to humans - The Guardian - May 11th, 2020
- Coronavirus quickly spread around the world starting late last year, new genetic analysis shows - CNN - May 11th, 2020
- Your genes could determine whether the coronavirus puts you in the hospital and we're starting to unravel which ones matter - The Conversation US - May 11th, 2020
- Yes, COVID-19 is mutating, here's what you need to know - ABC News - May 11th, 2020
- Conservatives Are Not the Only Ones Who Ignore Facts and the Science - Merion West - May 11th, 2020
- Coronavirus in Scotland: Charity warns Covid will cause a spike in ME cases - as it calls for 'harmful' exercise treatment to be banned -... - May 11th, 2020
- Dr. Misaki Wayengera: The Man Behind Uganda's Covid 19 Test Kits - New Vision - May 11th, 2020
- Its In The Genes? Scientists Think Coronavirus Exploits Silent Hidden Mutations In The Body - International Business Times - May 11th, 2020
- From blood clots to 'Covid toe': Experts confounded by series of medical mysteries - The Straits Times - May 11th, 2020
- MET 2020 Slot booking to commence on July 15, Examination dates available at manipal.edu - Jagran Josh - May 11th, 2020
- Vitagene Launches The First FDA Authorized Saliva based Zero Contact COVID-19 At Home Test - Business Wire - May 10th, 2020
- Genetics in focus after coronavirus deaths of siblings and twins - The Guardian - May 10th, 2020
- 'An anvil on my chest': What it's like to have COVID-19 - LancasterOnline - May 10th, 2020
- Coronavirus may have spread to humans as early as October 2019 - study - The Jerusalem Post - May 10th, 2020
- Team reveals genomic history of ancient civilizations in the Andes - UC Santa Cruz - May 10th, 2020
- Regeneron Reports First Quarter 2020 Financial and Operating Results - BioSpace - May 10th, 2020
- Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Develop Anti-Coronavirus Surface Coating Based on Nanomate... - The Auto Channel - May 10th, 2020
- COVID-19 and food security - Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge - May 10th, 2020
- Val Sheffield elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences - Iowa Now - May 1st, 2020
- DNA gives clues into risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other dementias - Alabama NewsCenter - May 1st, 2020
- Rare Gene Discovered That Nearly Doubles Risk of Developing a Neurodegenerative Disease - Clinical OMICs News - May 1st, 2020
- Progress in understanding the genetic basis of mental health - SFARI News - May 1st, 2020
- Coronavirus was widespread in UK at very start of pandemic, says genetics expert - Sky News - May 1st, 2020
- This is how you do the genetics heritage filter on Instagram that everyone's doing - The Tab - May 1st, 2020
- COVID-19 vaccine in Ireland could take a year and a half - IrishCentral - May 1st, 2020
- MRC scientists elected Fellows of the Royal Society - Cambridge Network - May 1st, 2020
- Parkinson's discovery implicates "second brain" in the gut - New Atlas - May 1st, 2020
- Humans: are we the most effective vector of disease? - BugBitten - BMC Blogs Network - May 1st, 2020
- Could genetics explain why some COVID-19 patients fare worse than others? - Live Science - April 27th, 2020
- Human Genetics Market Overview, Top Companies, Region, Application and Global Forecast by 2026 - Latest Herald - April 27th, 2020
- American Academy of Arts & Sciences Elects UVM's Wallace to Its Membership - UVM News - April 27th, 2020
- The PBS documentary The Gene showcases genetics promise and pitfalls - Science News - April 9th, 2020
- Few clinical trials are done in Africa: COVID-19 shows why this urgently needs to change - The Conversation Africa - April 9th, 2020
- UCLA web app will enlist publics help in slowing the spread of COVID-19 - Newswise - April 9th, 2020
- Why does the new coronavirus kill some people and barely affect others? - Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice - April 9th, 2020
- COVID-19: Few Clinical Trials are Done in Africa. This Needs to Change ASAP. - The Wire - April 9th, 2020
- 'Behavioral suppression' needed to decrease coronavirus infections in Japan: experts - The Mainichi - April 9th, 2020
- The secret call of the wild: how animals teach each other to survive - The Guardian - April 9th, 2020
- Yann Joly on the fight against genetic discrimination - McGill Reporter - April 2nd, 2020
- Science to the rescue? How modern genetics could help save the world from coronavirus - Genetic Literacy Project - April 2nd, 2020
- Oldest human genetic data gleaned from 1.8-million-year-old tooth Haaretz - News Collective - April 2nd, 2020
- Science to the rescue? How modern genetics could help save the world from coronavirus - Alliance for Science - Alliance for Science - April 2nd, 2020
- BHU department claims to have discovered new technology to test COVID-19 - Jagran Josh - April 2nd, 2020
- Stealth BioTherapeutics Reports Fiscal Year 2019 Financial Results And Recent Business Highlights - BioSpace - April 2nd, 2020
- Researchers at U of T developing antibodies to 'neutralize' novel coronavirus before it invades cells - News@UofT - April 2nd, 2020
- What is coronavirus and Covid-19? An explainer - KTVZ - April 2nd, 2020
- Plasmid Market was Valued at US$ 89.52 million in 2018 and is Estimated to Reach US$ 447.68 Million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 19.5% over the... - April 2nd, 2020
- The genetic architecture of the human cerebral cortex - Science Magazine - March 26th, 2020
- The Coronavirus Pandemic Shows Us The Importance Of Combatting Climate Change - Forbes - March 26th, 2020
- Kallyope Inc. Announces $112M Series C Financing to Support First Clinical Trials and Advance Portfolio of Programs Targeting the Gut-Brain Axis - P&T... - March 26th, 2020
- IN CONSERVATION: DR. JEFF STROVEL, CEO of VERALOX THERAPEUTICS - BioBuzz - March 26th, 2020
- How healthtech startup Bione aims to use genetic testing in the fight against coronavirus - YourStory - March 26th, 2020
- Coronavirus: Massive gap in US response revealed after scientists learn colleague tested positive through twee - MEAWW - March 26th, 2020
- Avera announces ability to test for COVID-19 in South Dakota - The Dickinson Press - March 24th, 2020
- University of Utah experts advise caution over drugs hyped as possible coronavirus treatments - Salt Lake Tribune - March 24th, 2020
- Invitae and Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Expand Access to No-Charge Genetic Testing in the US and Canada - PRNewswire - March 24th, 2020
- Studying the African genome could yield new medical treatments for everyone - Genetic Literacy Project - March 24th, 2020
- Human Genetics Market Higher Growth Rate / CAGR over the Forecast Period to 2026 by Key Players like QIAGEN, Agilent Technologies, Illumina - New Day... - March 16th, 2020
- Coronavirus is hard on older people and scientists aren't sure why - NBCNews.com - March 16th, 2020
- Researchers study irregular horse heartbeats, hoping to find a cure - Minnesota Daily - March 16th, 2020
- Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation seeking to fund community-based organizations with major grant dollars - Miami's Community Newspapers - March 16th, 2020
- A book that could save lives: Adam Rutherford's How to Argue with a Racist reviewed - Spectator.co.uk - March 16th, 2020