Monday, September 10, 2007

In Lebanon DNA may yet heal rifts | Tech&Sci | Science |

In Lebanon DNA may yet heal rifts | Tech&Sci | Science |
"BYBLOS, Lebanon (Reuters) - A Lebanese scientist following the genetic footprint of the ancient Phoenicians says he has traced their modern-day descendants, but stumbled into an old controversy about identity in his country.

Geneticist Pierre Zalloua has charted the spread of the Phoenicians out of the eastern Mediterranean by identifying an ancient type of DNA which some Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians share with Maltese, Spaniards and Tunisians.

A seafaring civilization which reached its zenith between 1200 and 800 BC, the Phoenicians' earliest cities included Byblos, Tyre and Sidon on Lebanon's coast.

But their link to Lebanon, whose borders were drawn as recently as 1920, has long been a subject of controversy in a country split between an array of religious communities. 'Negotiating these waters is a very delicate job,' Zalloua said."
I wonder.... Is this more likely to unify or divide?

One participant described himself as Lebanese, Arab, and Christian -- in that order. Others quoted directly or indirectly seem to be more concerned with whether or not they are Arab. Neither of the three categories can be described as homogeneous and religion seems to be independent of these designations as well.

A number of countries in that region have borders established (imposed?) around 1920, following the final breakup of the Ottoman Empire and it seems that little consideration was given to history, ethnicity, or religion.

It's interesting research, but I suspect much potential for mischief is present as well.

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