We all know very little about the trail followed by our ancestors out of Africa. Yet today that path is being mapped via genomic means.
While the roots of humanity lie in Africa, the exact routes followed by early man out of the Dark Continent remain a mystery. Two beelines leading through Egypt and Sinai as well as Bab el Mandeb to Arabia are the most we knew that is until now.
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Early human demographics therefore show two alternative routes, one going through the Egyptian locus and the other through Ethiopia. But via mapping the genomic sequences of over 200 lineages, the knowledge regarding this situation is becoming clearer.
60,000 years ago the Levant region was where this dissemination of man took place. Since the origins of most Eurasians lie in the jungles of Africa, it is here that we must start if we are to find clues as to our anthropological and biological heritage.
The team of genetic engineers carried out research on 100 Egyptians and 125 Ethiopians. The results were surprising. The Egyptian population was more similar to the Africans than the Ethiopian. This lends weight to the argument that Egypt was the point of departure from the cradle of humanity that is Africa.
Furthermore, a cranium found in Israel, dating back some 55,000 years, also elucidates matters in this department. For one thing, it was thought that some 40,000 to 70,000 years ago the migrations began in earnest.
But the latest samples show that it was more like 130,000 years ago that the whole scenario took place. The Arabian provenance was one of the main passageways for this mass migration.
According to researchers, the task is a difficult and intricate one indeed. For one thing, most of the demographic analysis involves complex variables. The human races and populations have intermixed and undergone so much miscegenation that separating the individual indices is a back-breaking job. The various migrating lots have moved on into different areas and locating them is not as easy as is supposed by outsiders.
Thus for now at least, one thing is crystal clear. The path from Africa led through an Egyptian instead of an Ethiopian context. This might seem contrary to common sense, but then truth is always stranger than fiction.
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What looks to be as simple as the sun going around the earth is actually the earth going around the sun. Science is built upon paradigm shifts and the principle of fallibility.