One of the most fascinating, and probably promising avenues for the study of human antiquity is the study of ancient human genetics. These studies have opened up fanstastic windows to the past, relating to diverse aspects such as unique populations groups, origin of modern humans, development of language, etc (see an example of these studies here and here). As usual, along with the interesting and important studies, there has been a lot of “bunk”, which some of you may have already come across..
In recent years there has been quite an intense ongoing discussion, and debate, regarding studies on the genetic origins of the jews and other related populations. In fact, even Nadia Abu el-Haj (know from other aspects) has been involved in this … (see some of these discussions, here and here). Also in this case, a lot of good science, and lot of very bad science, has been intertwined …
Just now, a fascinating study on the genetics of the Druze has just appeared (and summarized briefly here), which demonstrates that they are a unique, and very old “genetic refuge” – which offers a fascinating glimpse of the genetic makeup of the near east thousand of years ago.
The future potential of genetic studies in archaeology, is, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating, and promising paths which will be taken in the next few decades. In fact, if in the future we should find sufficiently preserved bones of the Philistines, in which the DNA has been preserved, it might be possible to reveal some fascinating aspects regarding the origins, and connections, with regions outside and inside the Levant. This is one aspect that I hope we can develop at the Tell es-Safi/Gath project in future years.
Read the article – very interesting.