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North African Subsaharan

DNA Evidence Shows Original North Africans Had Sub-Saharan Ancestors

In 2018, an international team of researchers led by Johannes Krause and Choongwon Jeong of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Jena, Germany) and Abdeljalil Bouzouggar of the Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine (Rabat, Morocco), as well as scientists from Mohammed V University in Rabat, the Natural History Museum in London, the University of Oxford, the Université Mohammed Premier in Oujda, This is the oldest African nuclear DNA ever successfully analyzed. According to their results, these Late Stone Age individuals shared genetic heritage with populations from the Near East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

North Africa has played an important role in the evolution of our species. North Africa’s geography also makes it an interesting area to study how humans spread out of Africa. Although it is located on the African continent, today, the Sahara desert creates a significant barrier to travel to and from the continent’s southern regions. Today, it looks like Africans have always been separated this way, but it is not the case.

This circumstance, combined with the fact that today North Africans have some phenotypic differences from Africans in the south, gave rise to the concept of a Mediterranean or North African race. However, the sea serves as another natural barrier to the north. It has historically been a barrier to social interaction. As a result, a better understanding of North African history is critical to understanding the history of our species.

To address this, the team investigated a burial site associated with the Later Stone Age Iberomaurusian culture in Grotte des Pigeons, near Taforalt in Morocco. The so-called Iberomaurusians are thought to have been the first in the region to create finer stone tools known as microliths. 

“Grotte des Pigeons is an important site for understanding the human history of northwestern Africa because modern humans frequently inhabited this cave intensively for extended periods throughout the Middle and Later Stone Ages,” says co-author Louise Humphrey of the Natural History Museum in London. “There is evidence for more intensive use of the site around 15,000 years ago, and the Iberomaurusians began to bury their dead at the back of the cave.”

grotte des pigeon maroc Tafoughalt

Using advanced sequencing and analytical methods, the researchers examined DNA from nine Taforalt residents. They were able to recover mitochondrial data from seven people and genome-wide nuclear data from five people. This is an unprecedented achievement given the age of the samples, which are approximately 15,000 years old, and the poor preservation characteristic of the area. It is the first and oldest Pleistocene DNA of our species found in Africa.

Because of the difficult conditions for DNA preservation, only a few ancient genomes from Africa have been recovered, and none of them predate the introduction of agriculture in North Africa. Successful genome reconstruction was made possible by using specialized laboratory methods to recover highly degraded DNA, as well as relatively new analysis methods to characterize these individuals’ genetic profiles.

The researchers discovered two major components of the individuals’ genetic heritage. Approximately two-thirds of their ancestors are related to contemporaneous populations from the Levant, while the remaining one-third is most similar to modern Sub-Saharan Africans, particularly West Africans.

According to scientists, the high proportion of what they called “Near Eastern ancestry” indicates that the link between North Africa and the Near East existed much earlier than previously thought. Although previous studies for more recent time periods demonstrated connections between these regions, it was widely assumed that humans were not interacting across these distances during the Stone Age. According to co-senior author, Choongwon Jeong,  this analysis shows that North Africa, and the so-called “Near East” were part of one region without much of a genetic barrier even at this early time.

Although the Sahara was a physical barrier, there was clearly interaction going on at the time. The close relationship between Taforalt individuals and sub-Saharan populations indicates that interactions across this vast desert occurred much earlier than previously thought. In fact, one-third of Taforalt individuals have Sub-Saharan ancestry, which is higher than in modern populations in Morocco and many other North African populations. Let’s not forget that the desertification of the Sahara only started around 4200 BCE. Meaning that prior to that date, the area was not a barrier. People could freely travel from the south to the North of Africa and even to the “Middle East.”

Despite the fact that the scientists discovered clear markers linking the individuals’ ancestry to Sub-Saharan Africa, no previously identified population had the exact combination of genetic markers that the Taforalt individuals had. While some aspects are similar to modern Hadza hunter-gatherers from East Africa and others are similar to modern West Africans, neither group has the exact same combination of characteristics as the Taforalt individuals. As a result, the researchers are unsure where this heritage originated. One possibility is that this ancestry comes from a long-gone population. This question, however, would necessitate further investigation. 

hadza people tanzania hunter gatherers

You may have noticed that we mentioned the “Near East,” as if we had some reservations about what scientists have said, and you may be wondering why. Here’s how we explain it. Modern Europeans invented the terms Near East and Middle East to manipulate history and play with our perceptions of the ethnicity of the people who lived in these regions. Understand that we mentioned “Lived” and not “Live”. We are talking about the past. The original or ancient inhabitants of that region.

Indeed, the people of the Near East and North Africa today are clearly phenotypically distinct from those living in Africa and who we refer to as Black Africans or, for some, The Africans. As a result, the Near East is now regarded as a non-Black region. But it has not always been the case.

So, when scientists say that they’ve noticed that North Africa and the so-called “Near East” were part of one region without much of a genetic barrier even at this early stage, most people think of modern populations living in North Africa and the Near East TODAY. This refers to a population with pale skin and what some call “Caucasian” features. A way to separate the North of Africa from the “Blacks” living in the south.

What most people will probably overlook is the use of the expression “contemporaneous populations from the Levant,” which changes absolutely everything. Most people believe, and mainstream media heavily promotes, that North Africa has always looked the way it does today. With Black Africans in the south and a hybrid pale skin population in the north, thus dividing Africa and making North Africa a non-African region but especially non-Black.

Mummy child boy Lybia black mummy Italian

These are things that you will notice if you have enough experience in this field, but you will never notice if you are unfamiliar with true African history. The truth is that these discoveries date back approximately 15,000 years. And that basic information must be emphasized for a better understanding of what scientists are saying. Because it changes everything about our perception of North Africa. Without a clear explanation, it is equivalent to deceiving the readers because their perceptions of these areas have been influenced by what they see today and what is promoted by mainstream media.

The first thing we need to know is that white skin did not exist 15,000 years ago. In other words, the populations we are discussing, who lived in North Africa and were dubbed Iberomaurusians, are not a group of Spanish or even white-looking people like those we see today in North Africa. They were Black Africans.

The same is true for the people of the Near East. Because white skin did not exist back then, so we are still talking about black-skinned people who happened to live in the so-called Levant. We’ve been taught to associate locations with modern populations, but that’s a fallacy.

When we hear words like North Africa, Near East, or Eurasian, we associate them with specific faces. Faces with pale skin and non-tropical features. In other words, we don’t see Black people. In terms of phenotype, we see populations that are more or less related to white people or Europeans.

However, this has not always been the case. These areas’ current look is a very late phenomenon. People living in these areas used to be more phenotypically related to Africans we now call Black Africans. You might think that with these clarifications, we’ve finished correcting this information, but that’s not the case. The rabbit hole deepens.

When they link North Africa to the “Near East,” we imagine a non-Black African population entering Africa and settling in the north. But what about the genetic aspect? We can see that these areas today have very little to do with Africa, but what most people overlook is that in the past, the Near East was not only phenotypically associated with Black Africa, but also genetically. That is, the people who lived in these areas belonged to African haplogroup E. E is the modern Black African man’s haplogroup.

The most common haplogroup in Africa today is Haplogrop E, which originated in Sub-Saharan Africa. This implies that the populations mentioned by scientists, who lived in the Near East and interacted with those in North Africa, were still Africans. And, as I previously stated, we associate location names with specific looks of populations, which is a huge fallacy. It prevents us from fully comprehending what we are discussing.

What evidence do we have? A few years ago, scientists discovered that the population, they called  Natufians, were the people who lived in the so-called Near East back in the day. They were the first people to live in the Levant and the fertile crescent region. They lived in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Turkey, and other places 12,500 years ago.

And DNA tests on their remains revealed that they belonged to the E haplogroup, indicating that they were descended from modern Africans. Because it is still the most common haplogroup in Black Africa today. So they were not only black, but also genetically linked to Black Africa.

When scholars discuss a group of Near Eastern people migrating into North Africa, keep in mind that they are still referring to Black people. Most people believe that a group of white people entered Africa, but this is not true. Back in the day, there were no white people. So, what these Max Plank scientists discovered is that Black people inside Africa were interacting with Black Africans who settled in the Near East. And that they regularly intermarried. That’s the only way to understand this.

Haplogroups map

Some of you may be wondering what happened next. Why has North Africa changed so drastically? The answer, however, is both simple and complex. Because the area is located on the African continent’s border with two other continents, it was vulnerable to numerous foreign invasions, migrations, and occupations. And that is exactly what occurred.

People from North Africa frequently claim to be indigenous and that their ancestors looked exactly like them. Unfortunately, that is not entirely correct. Some may have inherited genes from ancient people from the area, but many things changed phenotypically. Particularly because of foreign admixture. As a result, we cannot discuss ancient North Africa using the current face of North Africa.

Recent studies of E-M81, the most common Y-chromosome sequence in North Africa today, revealed that it has a very recent origin. It first appeared between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, according to scientists, and has spread rapidly since then. That is, these people have nothing to do with those mentioned earlier in this article.

The sample used in the study dates back 15, 000 years. Two completely different eras and, as we can now clearly see, two completely different populations. This means that they did not exist within the African continent prior to that date, at least not in this form.

According to the same study, the presence of E-M81 in North Africa is consistent with the patterns observed in the rest of the genome, where an extensive, male-biased Near Eastern admixture event occurred 1300 years ago, coinciding with the Arab expansion. This information is critical because it reinforces everything we’ve said so far. and historically it also means that even during the Carthaginian period they did not live in the area.

Scientists believe it is related to a migration from the Near East. However, the topic of this article is also related to migrations from the Near East. So, if ancient Near Eastern populations were the same as modern ones, there should be no difference, right? However, there are genetic and possibly phenotypic differences. Evidence that we are speaking the truth.

North Africa and the Near East have changed over the millennia. These regions have changed to the point where the ancient populations were black and now resemble Europeans in some cases. However, this Arab expansion was not the catalyst for North Africa’s pale skin appearance. Because the majority of the Arabs who entered Africa were still black-skinned or at least a little lighter than indigenous people. They had brought some new phenotypes typical of the Arabian peninsula, but they still appeared dark.

We know this because of descriptions given by Europeans who fought them and other African moors during the Moorish invasion of Europe. They were either black or very dark skinned, and they had distinct features.

The event that led to what we see today is rarely discussed because it involves a period of time that European historians prefer to keep hidden. The practice of slavery spread into Africa during the Moorish golden age, which was triggered by the Arab expansion. Before that, Africa had never truly engaged in that practice.

People believe that slavery has existed since the beginning of time. But that’s not entirely correct. Wherever there are people, there will be conflicts, and with conflicts will come confrontations, which will result in captivity or servitude for those who lose the conflict. However, the terms of that servitude differ across cultures.

People have long claimed that the pyramids were built by slaves, but in 1990, a horseback tourist fell inside a mysterious tomb on the Giza plateau. It was the tomb of a man who worked on the Great Pyramid’s construction. More than 250 tombs will be discovered later. Evidence that the builders were not slaves, but rather skilled and compensated workers. They were paid in food and had the right to strike. Africans did not have a slave economy.

Skull of a builder of the great pyramid

This has been the case in Africa since the beginning of time. Slavery had nothing to do with African DNA. Captives were made servants. They were usually treated better than in other cultures and could later be reintroduced into the community, contrary to what happened in other cultures.

As a result of the Arab expansion, slavery became a widespread practice in Africa. It existed before during the Roman period, but did not impact the continent the same way. A slave-based economy was associated with the culture and even the religion of Islam. The whole expansion was directly based on the practice of slavery. And, as European scholars rarely mention, these Moorish rulers had a penchant for European slaves. This resulted in an increase in slave trade between North Africa and Europe. Female white slaves were a favorite of the Moorish rulers. They were sold by Europeans and other Mediterranean slave traders.

This occurrence resulted in the whitening of North Africa. This hypothesis is supported by genetic analysis of North African populations. At least 60% of modern North Africans have an African male ancestor, which means they have a variant of Y-DNA E that is Black African in origin, but a foreign mtDNA that traces the female line. This demonstrates that they were born to a Black African Male ancestor and a foreign mother. It is not true of all North Africans, but it is a recurring pattern.

The male line demonstrates that even late invaders were descendants of Africans, albeit with some differences due to interactions with late populations that appeared in the Near East. That’s why we said that even the Arabs who invaded the area were not white or extremely pale-skinned as we can think today. They just happened to live in the e Middle East at that time.

One of the most noticeable differences between modern North Africans and their southern neighbors appears to be the diversity of the female line. The vast majority of Africans living south of the Sahara have 100 percent African Y DNA and mtDNA. While 40-30% of North Africans have a foreign male ancestor and around 30% have a native African female ancestor. And all of these factors are most likely the cause of these phenotypic differences.

Gilles Milton white Gold European slavery slaves

As a result, we can see that things are more complicated than we think. We simplify it by using false information, which we then use to try to understand ancient history. But, as you can see, it’s not going to work. If we want to fully comprehend African history, we must reconsider everything.

North Africa has always been home to Black Africans. They are, in fact, the region’s indigenous people. They later mixed with numerous other African related population who came with waves of migrations from the Levant, then by numerous aggressive foreign groups who also came from the areas out of Africa. This led to numerous migrations south to avoid bondage for many of these indigenous people. All of this led to what we see today.

The original North Africans were Black, and there was no significant phenotypic difference between them and those labeled Sub-Saharan Africans. They were all Black and Africans. And this is something that we all need to learn and accept today. To understand what scientists say, we must all read between the lines because it is usually coded in order to prevent a full understanding of our origins and history.

When discussing the history of North Africa, it is critical to specify when in the timeline. Because most of the time we may be dealing with a completely different population depending on the time period. And without that precision, we end up deceiving the public and contributing to the destruction of the African image and of Black African history. 

An authentic portrayal of Mulay Rachid, founder of the Alawite dynasty that is currently ruling in Morocco

All this is not about race, but about representation. We are all humans, but we must remember that representation matters. It has a huge influence on how specific groups of people are perceived and treated in society. It also impacts people’s expectations of this people. If a group of people is constantly depicted in positions of power, in real life, people tend to think that they are best suited for these roles and vice versa. Talking about skin color in history is not about complaining, or debating about theories. These things have a direct impact on our lives. Particularly for Africans. The history of North Africa has been whitewashed. The region has a rich history, with different ethnic groups mingling over time. It turned into a massive melting pot. Unfortunately, this resulted in the erasure of the representation of the indigenous peoples. So when we try to revive the ancient image of the region, we are trying to heal a trauma. To solve this problem that is still impacting many people’s lives today. Especially in North Africa.

White Gold – Gilles Milton
Pleistocene North African genomes link Near Eastern and sub-Saharan African human populationsMarieke Sophia van de LoosdrechtA. Bouzouggar J. Krause, and 15 more.

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