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

The Mis Island Medieval Nubian Skeletal Collection at Michigan State University


Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University

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The Mis Island Medieval Nubian Skeletal Collection is part of a large-scale rescue archaeology project coordinated by the British Museum and Sudan Archaeological Research Society to mitigate the loss of cultural history due to dam construction on the Nile in Northern Sudan. Mis Island, located in the Fourth Cataract of the Nile, was occupied from the Meroitic period to modern day, however the sample represents remains excavated from two Christian medieval cemeteries dating to c. 6-15th centuries AD.

Cemetery 3-J-11, in use for the entire medieval Christian period, provides a large diachronic sample of a medieval Nubian population. A total of 282 individuals were recovered: 135 juveniles and 147 adults (69 females, 62 males,16 undetermined). Cemetery 3-J-10 was a separate bounded cemetery in use during the late medieval Christian period. A total sample of 126 individuals was recovered: 50 juveniles and 76 adults (35 females, 38 males, 3 undetermined).

An extensive research initiative is currently underway at Michigan State University to fully document this unique skeletal collection. Skeletal inventories, paleopathological analyses, dental examinations, and postcranial metric data have already been assessed. Anticipated research trajectories include analyses of degenerative joint disease, patterns of activity, trauma, non-metric inherited traits, and cranial morphometrics and migration studies. Radiocarbon dating of the remains, isotopic indicators of diet, and ancient DNA studies are also anticipated. The expected goal of this research is to present a profile of life in the community at Mis Island and provide a regional comparison to other medieval Nubian collections.

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