A recently conducted DNA analysis on the remains of Minoans’ skeletons found mainly in a cave in Lassithi, Crete, suggest beyond any doubt and previous speculation that the ancestors of the major Minoan civilization of the Bronze Age did not originate either from Africa or Asia, as archaeologists assumed so far, but rather from Europe.
The study was published in the journal, Nature Communications, excerpts from which were quoted and transmitted on the BBC news. Seven Greek scientists took part in the research project that proves British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans had been wrong to support that the Minoans were in fact refugees from Northern Egypt who were forced to leave their country and search for new lands 5,000 years ago.
According to George Stamatoyannopoulos, professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, and one of the study’s co-authors, “Evans was surprised to find such an advanced civilization in Crete and believed it to be the product and development of cultural exchange rather than of the native residents of the island.”
The Greek geneticist and his colleagues at the American University analyzed 37 samples of mitochondrial DNA, which date back 3,700 years and were extracted from the teeth of the skeletons excavated from a tomb near the city of Lassithi. The scientists compared the samples with those of 135 other populations from ancient Europe and Anatolia as well as modern time populations. The analysis showed more similarities in the genetic material of the Minoans with European tribes rather than with Libyans, Egyptians, Sudanese and Arabs from the Middle East.
Specifically, the genetic material showed more similarities with samples from the Bronze Age and Neolithic populations that lived in Europe and had most probably moved there from the Middle East or Turkey. Experts now argue that the Minoan civilization was locally developed by Neolithic farmers who reached the island approximately 9,000 years ago. “The Minoans are Europeans and are also related to present-day Cretans – on their maternal side,” said Stamatoyannopoulos, according to New Europe online.
Although the findings of the team may be limited (mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother), their importance is enough for the research to continue.