Mitogenomic diversity in Sacred Ibis Mummies sheds light on early Egyptian practices

Autoři: Sally Wasef aff001;  Sankar Subramanian aff001;  Richard O’Rorke aff001;  Leon Huynen aff001;  Samia El-Marghani aff003;  Caitlin Curtis aff001;  Alex Popinga aff004;  Barbara Holland aff005;  Salima Ikram aff006;  Craig Millar aff008;  Eske Willerslev aff009;  David Lambert aff001
Působiště autorů: Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Brisbane, Australia aff001;  Ancient DNA Laboratory, Learning Resource Center, Kasr Al-Ainy Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt aff002;  Ministry of Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt aff003;  Centre for Computation Evolution, Department of Computer Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand aff004;  School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia aff005;  Department of Sociology, Egyptology, and Anthropology, American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt aff006;  Ancient Studies Department, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa aff007;  School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand aff008;  Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom aff009;  Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom aff010;  Centre for GeoGenetics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark aff011
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223964


The ancient catacombs of Egypt harbor millions of well-preserved mummified Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) dating from ~600BC. Although it is known that a very large number of these ‘votive’ mummies were sacrificed to the Egyptian God Thoth, how the ancient Egyptians obtained millions of these birds for mummification remains unresolved. Ancient Egyptian textual evidences suggest they may have been raised in dedicated large-scale farms. To investigate the most likely method used by the priests to secure birds for mummification, we report the first study of complete mitochondrial genomes of 14 Sacred Ibis mummies interred ~2500 years ago. We analysed and compared the mitogenomic diversity among Sacred Ibis mummies to that found in modern Sacred Ibis populations from throughout Africa. The ancient birds show a high level of genetic variation comparable to that identified in modern African populations, contrary to the suggestion in ancient hieroglyphics (or ancient writings) of centralized industrial scale farming of sacrificial birds. This suggests a sustained short-term taming of the wild migratory Sacred Ibis for the ritual yearly demand.

Klíčová slova:

Ancient DNA – Birds – Egypt – Feathers – Paleogenetics – Sequence alignment – Species diversity – Tuna


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2019 Číslo 11