DNA provides evidence of integration, mobility in Phoenician societies

Important new clues about population mobility in the Mediterranean between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE have been uncovered by an international team of researchers, co-led by a University of Otago academic.

Professors Lisa Matisoo-Smith, of the University’s Department of Anatomy, and Pierre Zalloua of the Lebanese American University, led a team studying DNA from four ancient Phoenician and Punic burial sites in Lebanon and Sardinia.

They looked at mitochondrial genomes, which are maternally inherited, in a search for markers of Phoenician ancestry.

Their results, just published in the journal PLoS ONE, indicate that Phoenician trade networks and settlement strategies included both assimilation of indigenous women in Phoenician sites as well as the introduction of foreign women, not only from other Phoenician settlements but possibly from further afar.

Continuity of population ancestry between Phoenician and pre-Phoenician people in Sardinia is consistent with archaeological evidence of integration between the cultures.

“We also found mitochondrial DNA that was likely from North Africa or the Near East and even a lineage that is from Northwestern Europe, which today is found at high frequency in southern Ireland – a location linked to Phoenician traders in search of tin,” says Professor Matisoo-Smith.

One individual buried in a Phoenician tomb in Beirut was even found to have Western European mtDNA lineage.

Professor Zalloua points out that “this DNA evidence reflects the inclusive and multicultural nature of Phoenician society.”

“They were never conquerors, they were explorers and traders,’’ he says.

Professor Matisoo-Smith believes the research reveals a lot about Phoenician societies across the Mediterranean.

“They were inclusive and integrative of the indigenous peoples and there was much mobility, often over great distances, around the Phoenician networks. It is also likely that mobility included women as well as men, despite the fact that Phoenician trade was male-dominated.

“It also shows us that identity is a cultural phenomenon; most of the samples that we have are culturally Phoenician (they were buried as Phoenicians), but genetically, they are diverse.’’

One of the great ancient civilizations, Phoenician culture emerged from the coastal city states in what is now Lebanon and Southern Syria around 1800 BCE. By the 9th century BCE Phoenicians had spread across the Mediterranean, establishing settlements on the islands and coasts of North Africa, Spain, Italy (e.g. Sardinia and Sicily), Malta and Cyprus.

From the middle of the 8th century BCE, pressured to provide silver and other metals to the Assyrian Empire, the Phoenicians looked to the west and dominated trade on the Mediterranean Sea for centuries.

The following was a press release provided by the university.

5 Lebanese vegan recipes perfect for Veganuary!

Sure, Lebanese foods include an abundance of meat, chicken and seafood, but there are also recipes perfect for vegans!

Lebanese cuisine is rich with whole grains, vegetables and beans that can you help you plan for meals this Veganuary.

Veganuary is a campaign launched in 2014 as a way to encourage people to try vegan for the month of January.

If you are participating this month, or are planning to try vegan in the future, consider these recipes:

Foul Moudamas

vegan lebanese foul

Ingredients

  • 2 15 ounce cans cooked small fava beans
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 punch parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Pour the cooked fava beans with the liquid into heavy saucepan.
  2. Add the mashed garlic, the cumin, the salt and the pepper. Bring to a boil.
  3. Using potato mashed, mash the fava beans partially and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice, the olive oil and half of the chopped vegetables. Stir, adjust the seasoning and remove from the heat.
  5. Spoon the foul moudamas into shallow serving dish and top with the rest of the chopped vegetables.

Recipe courtesy of Sanaa Cooks


Salatet Fassoulia

vegan lebanese white bean salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried cannellini or Great Northern beans, soaked overnight
  • 12 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 14 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced into a paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Bring beans and 6 cups water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans are tender, about 50 minutes. Drain beans and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, parsley, cumin, and garlic in a small bowl.
  3. Drizzle garlic mixture over beans, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Serve bean salad cold or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of Saveur.


Mujadara

vegan lebanese mujadara vegan rice and lentil

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 3/4 cups lentils rinsed and sorted
  • 1 cup rice white par-boiled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a deep sauce pot over medium heat and sauté onions until translucent and caramelized, 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add lentils and increase heat to medium-high. Toast lentils for 60 seconds then add 6 cups water. Bring pot to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are halfway cooked, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add rice, salt and pepper to the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Stir once, cover with lid, then reduce heat to low. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  4. Fluff lentils and rice with a fork before serving with caramelized onions.

Recipe courtesy of The Lemon Bowl.


Falafel

vegan lebanese falafel

Ingredients

  • 1 kg green dried fava beans, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh coriander, chopped (cilantro)
  • 3 heads garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground red chili pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour or 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried coriander
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

Directions

  1. Soak beans in water for 24 hours, then drain well. Peel the fava beans.
  2. Mix together the peeled fava beans, chopped parsley, coriander/cilantro, crushed garlic and chopped onions.
  3. Grind in a food processor.
  4. Add all remaining falafel ingredients and process again.
  5. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Knead the falafel mix.
  7. Form spoonfuls of the falafel mixture into balls and flatten slightly.
  8. Heat oil in deep pan over high heat, then fry till browned.
  9. Note: Cooking time does not include 24 hours soaking time for the beans.

Recipe courtesy of Genius Kitchen.


Batata Harra

vegan lebanese batata harra spicy potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 kg desiree potatoes, cut into 2.5 cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and salt. Divide potatoes among 2 baking paper-lined oven trays. Transfer the trays to the oven and roast for 40 minutes, turning once, until golden.
  3. Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and coriander and cook for 1–2 minutes until the garlic starts to change color.
  4. Add the lemon juice and the hot potatoes to the pan and toss lightly to coat. Season to taste and sprinkle with the cayenne pepper.

Recipe courtesy of SBS Food.

Lebanese designer launches new ‘angelic’ collection

A Beirut-based fashion studio is catching eyes worldwide after its launch of a glitzy new ‘angelic’ collection of designer dresses.

Lebanese designer Mohammed Ashi is the brains behind the ice-white patterns and intricate embroidery. He has dressed A-list celebrities on the red carpet, including singers Celine Dion and Janelle Monae.

A post shared by Ashi Studio (@ashistudio) on

Ashi’s latest design is described on Instagram as “The Girl on the Moon.” The launch comes months before Paris Fashion Week, which is set to begin on February 27, 2018.

The Ashi brand was launched in 2007 to “tell fairy tales through every meticulously hand crafted design,” according to its website.

Ashi’s biography says he is “attached to his Arab roots yet inspired by diverse cultures.”

For more information on the Ashi brand, click here.

Rare newsreel video shows Lebanon in 1969

Rare footage from British Pathé, a producer of newsreels and documentaries, shows Lebanon in 1969.

British Pathé was at the forefront of cinematic journalism, blending information with entertainment to popular effect.

Over the course of a century, it documented everything from major armed conflicts and seismic political crises to the curious hobbies and eccentric lives of ordinary people. If it happened, British Pathé filmed it.

Beirut, the thriving beautiful capital city of Lebanon.

But even here, in the biblical land of milk and honey, the honey is not so sweet.

These are refugees — some of the many who have lost their homes in Middle East strife.

Lebanon has seen its share of troubles through the centuries. Romans, Arabs, the Crusaders, Turks, the French, and the allied forces all have passed this way.

But Lebanon has survived, and has merged as a prosperous and democratic state, composed equally of Christians and Muslims.

The president, Charles Helou, is a Christian. The prime minister, by agreement, is always a Muslim. The set up appears to work well.

In spite of its geographic position of strategy in the current Middle East situation, the financial comparison of Lebanon to Switzerland and its role as the trading house of the Middle East is a fair one.

Free enterprise flourishes. Modern roads cover the country. Luxury buildings and hotels have sprung up.

One of the main objects of both is tourism. About 30 percent of the national income is derived from visitors, including Jewish people. Even now Lebanon is still a tourist attraction.

This is traditional and universal in appeal.

So is this…

In this small land, bordered by Israel and Syria, the east and the west fuse smoothly. Ancient and modern, Christian and Muslim.

It’s a land of contrast. Sunny lowlands, snowy mountains.

Rare Lebanese cheese on verge of disappearing, report says

A traditional Lebanese practice of using clay jars to make one of the world’s rarest and oldest cheeses is slowly disappearing, according to a report by BBC News.

Ambarees, an iconic product of the Bekaa Valley, is made of fermented raw goat milk in earthenware jars. The cheese develops into a creamy texture with an acidic flavor. Lebanese call it “Labnet el Jarra.”

According to BBC, some Baalbeck residents say it’s becoming harder to find the traditional clay pot needed for cheese production. The practice is also not being passed down to newer generations, the report adds.

How It’s Made

Making the delicacy begins with filling the clay jar with milk and covering it with a cloth. The milk is left until the water begins to separate and drain out.

Then, for several months, salt and milk are added to the recipe at least twice per week until it begins to dry. The cheese stays fresh for at least one year using this method.

Lebanese-Cheese-1

Ambarees is made from raw goat milk poured at room temperature into the jar. The key to its production involves its fermentation, and the cheese reaching the perfect acidity.

The delicacy is commonly enjoyed during winter months on hot pieces of Markouk or Saj breads. Ambarees is highly dense and can be preserved for up to one year, making it ideal for winter enjoyment.

Why It’s Disappearing

According to BBC, markets in Beirut say most vendors don’t have time to make the homemade cheese anymore.

“Ambarees is one of the oldest cheeses in the world; it’s maybe 2,000 years old,” says one vendor. “People like it, but making it is quite hard and no one has time anymore.”

Lebanese-Cheese-2

Some Lebanese fear the cheese could soon disappear if newer generations don’t learn the recipe and pass it on.

Families in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley — where it’s called ‘ambaress’ — and in the Shouf area — where it is called serdeleh — are hoping to keep the tradition alive.

WATCH: Lost Cheese of the Lebanese Mountain:

‘Wonder Woman’ banned in Lebanon because of Israeli actress

The movie “Wonder Woman” is banned in Lebanon because the lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli, Lebanese officials announced.

The Ministry of Economy and Trade made the decision Wednesday to institute the ban before “Wonder Woman” hit the silver screen this weekend.

A group called “Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel” has been working to urge the Lebanese government to block the film due to lead actress Gal Gadot’s ethnicity.

Gadot served two years in the Israeli Defense Forces, the national military service mandatory for Israeli citizens over 18. The group said Gadot “boasted about the army training for Hollywood.”

“We refuse to normalize relations with an enemy state,” said Rania Masri, a member of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon. “We’re not talking about a political disagreement, were talking about resistance against occupation.”

One of Lebanon’s largest theater chains, Grand Cinemas, officially announced the ban on Twitter. “#WonderWoman has been banned in #Lebanon,” the tweet said.

The Ministry of Economy of Trade said in a statement the government has “taken all necessary action” to ban the film.

A counter-petition titled “Release Wonder Woman in Lebanon” has been published to challenge the ban. Organizers argue that previous films starring Gal Gadot, such as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Furious 7,” have successfully screened in Lebanon.

“Gal Gadot may be an Israeli, but we want to watch a movie about the amazing character of Wonder Woman,” the petition said.

The petition also argued that “Wonder Woman” was made by production companies in the U.S. and China.

What do you think? Should Lebanon ban “Wonder Woman” from its theaters? Share your thoughts on the Lebanese Examiner Facebook page.

WATCH: ‘Wonder Woman’ Banned in Lebanon:

Lebanese penal law allows rapists to walk free

A controversial law protecting rapists in Lebanon is expected to be reconsidered in parliament this week. Article 522 in Lebanese penal law allows men who rape women to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims.

The law can also suspend any conviction for a person who has committed rape, kidnapping, or statutory rape. The only stipulation is marrying the victim.

In December, members of the Parliamentary Committee for Administration and Justice announced an agreement to repeal the law, but a decision has not been formally made. The law must go before the full Lebanese parliament for review.

“The current law allows for a second assault on a rape survivor’s rights in the name of ‘honor’ by trapping her in a marriage with her rapist,” said Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Protecting honor should be about ensuring that attackers are punished and promoting social attitudes that support survivors of sexual violence instead of stigmatizing them.”

The renewed push to repeal and reform this law is coming from Lebanese women’s rights groups, namely Abaad, a group that has invested thousands of dollars in advertising, public campaigns and billboards to end the law. They also created the hashtag #Undress522.

Ali Awada, advocacy manager for Abaad, told Public Radio International that the group’s public service campaigns are working.

“It worked at the policy level with different decision-makers,” says Awada. “After this series of lobbying meetings, we managed to get this draft law discussed inside the parliament with different political affiliates, and the final voting will be this week, with hopefully a ‘yes’ to abolish article 522.”

Awada points to tragic examples when similar laws have resulted in serious women’s rights violations.

In a widely publicized case, a Moroccan teen committed suicide in November 2013 after her family forced her to marry her rapist, according to Al Jazeera.

The suicide happened amid 2013 efforts to repeal Moroccan penal code Article 475, which also allows rapists who marry their victims to walk free.

 

Hariri reportedly bans photojournalist for “unofficial” photo

BEIRUT – Prime Minister Saad Hariri has reportedly banned a Lebanese photojournalist from covering events at Beit Al Wasat, Hariri’s upscale mansion, according to a report in Global Voices.

Photojournalist Hussein Baydoun photographed Hariri with one finger in his mouth during a press conference on Oct. 20. He later posted the photo to Twitter with a comment in Arabic that translates to, “For your eyes.”

Baydoun, who works for a London-based Arabic news outlet, was reportedly told he could no longer cover Hariri’s events because the photo was “unofficial.”

Wael Yaman, director of digital and social media at the Future Movement, acknowledged on Twitter that Baydoun could no longer attend events at Beit Al Wasat.

According to a Global Voices article, the prime minister’s office said Beit Al Wasat will be restricted to “permanent reporters” only.

Baydoun’s employer, The New Arab, is standing by its photographer, according to the article.

“I am fortunate that my newspaper is next to me, offering full support,” he told a Global Voices reporter. “We need to have a real photojournalists’ syndicate that fights for our rights.”

Lebanese couple engaged after meeting for first time

(BEIRUT) — A Lebanese couple who connected on Facebook and had a long distance relationship for 10 months met face-to-face for the first time in Beirut, and were engaged moments later.

Ramez Yassine, who lives in Lebanon, and Inaam Allaham, who lives in Dearborn Heights, Mich., spent months dating through online video chats.

But when Allaham flew to Lebanon to meet Yassine for the first time, Yassine had other plans. This wasn’t just a meet-and-greet; Yassine staged a full-blown engagement party in the Beirut International Airport parking lot.

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“I’ve never seen her or felt her hand, or even smelt her scent,” Yassine said, in a YouTube video posted on Oct. 5. “But somehow I’ve never felt more in love with a person like that before.”

Moments after Allaham landed in Beirut, she was engaged!

“Today is going to be the first day I ever meet her,” Yassine said, before heading to the airport. “We chatted on Skype, Tango, and every possible video audio chat you can ever think of.”

WATCH the proposal:

Austrian mountaineer climbs Baatara Gorge in Tannourine

(BEIRUT) — Austrian climber David Lama chose Lebanon as the location for his latest adventure and fixed his sights on setting a route in the untouched Baatara Gorge.

It was a bold move for the 25-year-old climber and he successfully set the new route Avaatara, which is a 5.14d climb.

“If you get to travel roads that have already been discovered, you’re basically just following,” Lama said, citing the reason why he chose to visit Lebanon. “But if you go somewhere no one has ever been you’re basically in the lead and that’s something I really like.”

“Lebanon is definitely a special place, it’s somehow a little bit exotic, a place that you don’t actually plan to go to as a climber, as it’s not really on the climbing map, and that’s one factor that drove me to come here.”

David Lama climbs the first ascent of Avaatara (5.14d) in the Baatara Gorge near Tannourine, Lebanon on June 18th, 2015. (Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool)
David Lama climbs the first ascent of Avaatara (5.14d) in the Baatara Gorge near Tannourine, Lebanon on June 18th, 2015. (Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool)

The Baatara gorge sinkhole is a waterfall in Tannourine, Lebanon, which drops 255 metres into the Baatara Pothole, a cave of Jurassic limestone located on the Lebanon Mountain Trail.

Lama is the first person to ever scale the sinkhole.