The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Craniofacial differences between modern and archaeological Northeastern Thai skeletal populations


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Valdosta State University

Thursday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

This biological distance analysis study’s principal objective was to understand how environmental factors influenced cranial shape and size in Thai populations. Crania have been shown to change over time due to environmental influences. Craniometric data were employed to assess the differences between archaeological and modern populations, as cranial measurements have been demonstrated to be a useful proxy for genetic data and to understand epigenetic factors affecting crania.

Archaeological and modern Thai skeletal populations were utilized for this biological distance analysis. Both Thai populations were from the northeastern Thailand Isaan region. The archaeological Thai population from Ban Chiang is dated from the Pre-metal to Iron Age periods (2000 B.C.-200 A.D). The modern Thai population dates from 1970s until present day. Cranial measurements were collected from 29 anthropologically accepted measurements to explore epigenetic and biological relationships between modern and archaeological populations.

Data were subjected to multiple multivariate statistical tests to determine biological distance between the populations. The results from this study suggest that modern and archaeological Thai populations have markedly different crania, especially in shape. Ban Chiang individuals and modern Thai individuals are very biologically distant from each other, indicating that this archaeological population is not ancestral to the modern Thai population. Environmental factors may have likely played a large role in altering cranial shape in addition to unknown genetic and historical forces. This research may contribute to discussions of how epigenetic factors have influenced the crania and possibly suggest origins of modern Thai people.

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