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

An odontometric investigation of biological affinities of the Yashkuns of Northern Pakistan


Anthropology, California State University, Bakersfield

Thursday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

The Yashkun are a Dardic-speaking ethnic group of northern Pakistan. Most researchers claim that Yashkun are immigrants from Central Asia (Cunningham, 2010), but Dani (2001) asserts Yashkuns are indigenous to northern Pakistan and are descendants of the same population that yielded Burusho and Shina ethnic groups found in the same localities as the Yashkun. This research seeks to determine whether Yashkuns represent long-standing indigenous occupants of northernPakistanor immigrants fromCentral Asia.

Yashkun origins are identified through a comparative analysis of permanent tooth size allocation among 163 Yashkun young adults from Astore, northern Pakistan. Maximum mesiodistal and buccolingual measurements were obtained for all permanent teeth except third molars in accordance with standardized methods. Individual measurements were scaled against the geometric mean to control for sex dimorphism and evolutionary tooth size reduction. These data were contrasted with 22 samples of prehistoric and living individuals from Pakistan, peninsular India, Central Asia, and the Iranian Plateau. Inter-sample differences in tooth size allocation were assessed with pairwise squared Euclidian distances and the patterning of phenetic affinities among samples was simplified with neighbor-joining cluster analysis and principal co-ordinates analysis.

Results indicate that Yashkuns possess close affinities to Burushos and Shins, with most distant affinities to other northernPakistangroups. Yashkuns have no affinities to prehistoric inhabitants of Central Asia or the Indus Valley, or to living peninsular Indians. Hence, Dani's assertion that Yashkuns, Burushos, and Shins are all living descendants of a common, indigenous population of the Hindu Kush and Karakoram highlands appears confirmed.

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