DNA clues to Queen of Sheba tale
Posted by Xeno on June 22, 2012
An Ethiopian fresco supposedly depicting the Queen of Sheba traveling to Solomon.
Clues to the origins of the Queen of Sheba legend are written in the DNA of some Africans, according to scientists.
Genetic research suggests Ethiopians mixed with Egyptian, Israeli or Syrian populations about 3,000 years ago.
This is the time the queen, mentioned in great religious works, is said to have ruled the kingdom of Sheba.
The research, published in The American Journal of Human Genetics, also sheds light on human migration out of Africa 60,000 years ago.
According to fossil evidence, human history goes back longer in Ethiopia than anywhere else in the world. But little has been known until now about the human genetics of Ethiopians.
Professor Chris Tyler-Smith of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, a researcher on the study, told BBC News: “Genetics can tell us about historical events.
“By analysing the genetics of Ethiopia and several other regions we can see that there was gene flow into Ethiopia, probably from the Levant, around 3,000 years ago, and this fits perfectly with the story of the Queen of Sheba.”
Lead researcher Luca Pagani of the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute added: “The genetic evidence is in support of the legend of the Queen of Sheba.”
More than 200 individuals from 10 Ethiopian and two neighbouring African populations were analysed in the largest genetic investigation of its kind on Ethiopian populations.
About a million genetic letters in each genome were studied. Previous Ethiopian genetic studies have focussed on smaller sections of the human genome and mitochondrial DNA, which passes along the maternal line. …
The queen of Sheba has been called a variety of names by different peoples in different times. To King Solomon of Israel she was the Queen of Sheba. In Islamic tradition she was called Bilqis or Balqis by the Arabs, who say she came from the city of Sheba, also called Mareb, in Yemen or Arabia Felix. The Roman historian Josephus calls her Nicaule. The Ethiopian people claim her as Makeda or Maqueda. She is thought to have been born some time in the 10th century BC. Her lineage was part of the Ethiopian dynasty established in 1370 BCE by Za Besi Angabo, which lasted 350 years; Makeda’s grandfather and father were the last two rulers of this dynasty. Makeda’s mother was known as Queen Ismenie. In 1005 BCE, Makeda’s father appointed her as his successor from his deathbed.
To the early ancient Greeks, Ethiopia referred to an empire that encompassed a vast territory, extending to Arabia, Syria, Armenia and the territory between the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. This is the empire that the Queen of Sheba was said to have reigned over. In the Ethiopian Book of Aksum, she is described as establishing a new capital city at Azeba, while the Kebra Negast refers to her building a capital at Debra Makeda, or “Mount Makeda”. The Yemenite kingdom of Himyar refers to her in its histories as well.
In the Hebrew Bible, a tradition of the history of nations is preserved in Genesis 10. In Genesis 10:7 there is a reference to Sheba, the son of Raamah, the son of Cush, the son of Ham, son of Noah. In Genesis 10:26-29 there is a reference to another person named Sheba…Recent archaeological discoveries in Mareb, Yemen support the view that the Queen of Sheba ruled over southern Arabia, with evidence suggesting that the area was the capital of the Kingdom of Sheba.