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Studies and Comments on Ancient Egyptian Biological Relationships*

  • S. O. Y. Keita (a1) (a2)

This discussion seeks to evaluate some of the previous writings on the biological origins of the northern Nile valley population or peoples, who came to be known as “ancient Egyptians.” The subject is of interest for three reasons. The first is that Egypt lies at a geographical crossroads and would have been subject to possible colonization or migration from all directions. The second is that Egypt is in Africa and there is no scientific reason to think that Egyptians would not share some biological origins with other Africans. The third reason is that previous discussions have been misguided in focusing on “race” as opposed to biological affinity. There seems to be a problem in understanding that human genetic variation cannot always be easily described. Genetic origins can cut across ethnic (sociocultural or national) lines. At what village along the Nile valley today would one describe the “racial” transition between “Black” and “White”—assuming momentarily that these categories are real? It could not be done.

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I wish to thank F. Gaballah, C. Stringer, J.L. Heim, M. Chamla, and P. Garlick for permission to study collections in their care. Part of this work was supported by the Boise Fund, Oxford University. Mrs. Wiggins of KOM Company typed the final manuscript. This paper is dedicated to V. Rochester, Y. Walker, Patrik, and India.

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History in Africa
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