What is Egypt DNA Ethnicity on Ancestry?

In this article we are going to look more closely at what having Egyptian DNA ethnicity results means for your personal family history. We will look at where this region falls and what goes into creating the unique DNA from this region.

Egypt DNA Region

As the name would suggest the Egypt DNA region covers the vast majority of the country of Egypt itself. There are a few small exceptions with regions in the northwest, southwest and southeast not displaying high concentration of common DNA in this ethnicity.

Small populations of Egyptian DNA can be found in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Israel, Sudan and Libya. These populations do not extend far into these countries and are localized around the geographic borders of the nations.

History of Africa

According to the paleontological record, it was the continent of Africa in which the first hominids developed. These early hominids were the first to walk in a bipedal motion and it is from them that eventually humans as we know them today evolved.

The fossil records suggest that homo sapiens were living in Africa between 260,000 to 350,000 years ago. Remains from South Africa, Morocco and Ethiopia seem to suggest that homo sapiens were already widespread throughout the continent during that time frame.

History of Egypt

Early Cultures

Evidence suggests the existence of Egyptian culture in the region as early as 10,000 BC with evidence of extensive hunter gatherer populations. Over the millennia farming would develop in what was once a lush fertile land.

It was by around 6000 BC that climate changes and potentially over-grazing that the once idyllic pastoral lands of Egypt started to become the desolate and oppressively hot Sahara desert we know today. It was also around this time that a Neolithic culture became rooted in the Nile Valley, the last life line for agriculture thanks to the life bringing waters of the Nile river itself.

These early Nile Valley cultures predate the more famous dynastic system that would follow and would include the Badari and Naqada. Many of these cultures existed independently but would often trade with one another. This lasted about 2000 years with the cultures maintaining their own distinct ways.

Dynastic Egypt

The Egypt most people think of historically is the dynastic era which spanned 3150 – 332 BC. Around 3150 BC a unified kingdom of Egypt was created under the rule of King Menes. This king is credited for unifying upper and lower Egypt and founding the first Egyptian dynasty essentially becoming the first of the Pharaohs.

It would be some time until the archetypal Egypt we think of really began with the first two dynasties paving the way for the Old Kingdom period 2700 – 2200 BC. It was during that period that a vast majority of pyramids were constructed

First Foreign Dynasty

Some 14 dynasties of Egyptians came and went over the millennia but they were mostly localized. It was the 15th dynasty however that saw the first foreign rulers of the region. The Hyksos dynasty which ruled between 1650 -1550 BC are believed by historians to have been of Jewish or Arabian origin. Early historians believed they may also have been Phoenicians.

Becoming an International Power

The dynasties that ruled Egypt between 1550 – 1070 BC are likely the most famous consisting of pharaohs most people will likely recognize. These included

  • Hatshepsut
  • Thutmose III
  • Akhenten
  • Nerfertiti
  • Tutankhamun
  • Ramesses II

It was a time of increased contact and trade with neighboring countries but would also culminate in invasion from some of these neighboring nations. At various times during this period Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians invaded and seized control of Egypt. Ultimately though the native Egyptians would eventually drive all of them out although not before genetic marks would have been made on the population.

Ptolemaic Kingdom

Another famous name when it comes to Egyptian rulers was Cleopatra the final ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. This kingdom spanned 305 – 30 BC and hailed from Greece. In order to gain the support of the native Egyptians they took on the name of Pharaoh and would assimilate the Egyptian culture and traditions.

This kingdom would come to an end when Rome, seeing them in decline, decided to annex Egypt. The famous tale of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, a Roman, speaks to the situation at the time. The Greek or Hellenistic culture that developed during Egypt during this period would persist beyond the eventual Muslim conquest of the region.

Coptic Influence

Throughout all the foreign invaders the traditions and languages of ancient Egypt persisted with the Coptic language remaining a widely spoken tongue well into the 10th century AD. The country still holds to many of the ancient traditions today and reveres its past.

Other Influences

Rome would be the ruling power of Egypt between 30 BC to 641 AD when the Byzantine Empire took control. Persians would take control of the nation for a short while before the Byzantines once again gained power.

Egypt would later be invaded by the Arab Islamic Empire finally unseating the Byzantines. The next in line to take Egypt some 600 years later was the Ottoman Empire followed swiftly by a brief takeover by the French under Napoleon.

Finally in 1882 the British established indirect rule of the nation which would last until 1952. The country would become the Republic of Egypt a year later.

Where Did My Egypt Region DNA Come From?

Although part of Africa, the average Egyptian today has a more middle eastern appearance. This is why in earlier ethnicity estimates there was a distinction between Saharan and sub-Saharan DNA. Thousands of years of influence from the middle east and Europe have created a unique DNA combination.

We can call it distinctly Egyptian because nowhere else on the planet has seen occupation by so many ruling dynasties from such a broad variety of ethnicity. DNA connections to this region likely come from more recent migration.

As the Egypt region does not currently have any defined sub-regions it is difficult to tell exactly where in Egypt your ancestors may have originated.

Can I Trace My Egyptian Ancestors?

Historically Egypt has been a country that has suffered internal conflicts which is never a good thing in terms of vital records. This means unless you already know who your Egyptian born ancestor was and a few things about them researching them may be tricky.

Final Thoughts

The country of Egypt has a long recorded history and the achievements of its ancient peoples still stand today as testament to an advanced society. The area around the Nile Valley has long been a sought after region for invaders which has resulted in numerous takeovers from neighboring countries through the millennia.

With each new change of control by a foreign aggressor a swath of immigration into the region will have taken place. The result is a diverse mix of genetics in the modern era populace that stands out distinctly in those descended from the region.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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