Commun Biol 5 (1) 554 [2022-06-07; online 2022-06-07]
The Middle East plays a central role in human history harbouring a vast diversity of ethnic, cultural and religious groups. However, much remains to be understood about past and present genomic diversity in this region. Here we present a multidisciplinary bioarchaeological analysis of two individuals dated to the late 7th and early 8th centuries, the Umayyad Era, from Tell Qarassa, an open-air site in modern-day Syria. Radiocarbon dates and burial type are consistent with one of the earliest Islamic Arab burials in the Levant. Interestingly, we found genomic similarity to a genotyped group of modern-day Bedouins and Saudi rather than to most neighbouring Levantine groups. This study represents the genomic analysis of a secondary use site with characteristics consistent with an early Islamic burial in the Levant. We discuss our findings and possible historic scenarios in the light of forces such as genetic drift and their possible interaction with religious and cultural processes (including diet and subsistence practices).