Canaanites Weren't Annihilated by Ancient Israelites After All

Researchers say they lived on to become the ancestors of today's Lebanese
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2017 9:11 AM CDT
Spoiler Alert on the Canaanites: They Weren't Wiped Out
The remains of a fighter from the Canaanite period around 1800BC are seen in an excavation site in the southern city of Sidon, Lebanon, on Aug. 4, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

The Bible suggests the Canaanites were wiped out by the ancient Israelites, but a new study says otherwise, claiming the people survived and went on to be the ancestors of those who today live in Lebanon, ScienceDaily reports. Per a study in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers from the UK's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute sequenced the genomes of five 4,000-year-old Canaanites, as well as 99 people now residing in Lebanon—DNA evidence that enabled the scientists to establish ancestry. The study results show an overwhelming majority of the genetic makeup (93%) of today's Lebanese can be traced back to the Canaanites, per the Times of Israel. Study co-author Chris Tyler-Smith calls that percentage "quite surprising," given the "enormously complex history of this region," per ScienceDaily.

The Bible's Book of Deuteronomy lays out what was to happen to the Canaanites: "Completely destroy them ... as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do." But some Bible verses contradict the story of total annihilation, and the researchers write that "no archaeological evidence has so far been found to support widespread destruction of Canaanite cities between the Bronze and Iron Ages." The Canaanites made a major cultural impact during the Bronze Age, including introducing what's believed to have been the first alphabet. This new discovery sheds a bit more light on the rather mysterious group, who didn't leave much in the way of written records. (This find could reveal the truth about Goliath's people.)

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