Minoan DNA, and Genesis 10

So this (old article) showed up on my Facebook feed:

If true (and I have no reason to doubt it) then problems are created for a literalist understanding of Genesis 1-11, which seems to trace the Minoans (Caphtorim) to Egypt.


Whether this is a problem for literalist understanding, I don’t know, since that seems to be a question about what people believe and what they mean by “literalist understanding.” I seem to recall much bigger problems in Gen 1-11 than just the lineage of a Cretan civilization, but if the text claims that Minoans somehow came from Egypt, then it seems to be wrong.

Maybe there’s something more interesting here, though. I didn’t remember the Minoan ancestry story but I clearly remember this one that showed that modern Greeks (and the famous Greeks we all read about) really did descend from Mycenaeans. The piece explains that even some modern archaeologists thought that Minoans might have Egyptian roots, because they used hieroglyphics.


The ancient writers of Genesis may simply have assumed Egyptian connections to the Minoans, if that idea was in the air way back then. (This would make a lot of sense, given that the Minoan civilization was vast and influential throughout the region and given that their use of hieroglyphics misled even modern scholars.) Maybe this glitch (adopting a piece of “history” from the knowledge of the time) can help to date the text in which it’s found; in other words, maybe the Minoans-from-Egypt backstory was prominent during the Exile but not during more ancient times when a literalist would date the writing of Genesis. I don’t know.

But I also don’t see a lot of writing or commentary on this topic from a biblical point of view, so I think it’s likely that no one, including the biblical writers, care about whether Minoans come from Egypt or from Persia. And that probably means that the “problems” you ask about are minuscule.

Well, while I think it’s always fun to have a look at ancient peoples in light of modern genetics, the premise of your post (that Genesis makes claims about Minoans) seems false. I just read the Wikipedia entry on Caphthorim and realize there’s no reasonable basis for that premise.

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