The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


A Feature-based Method for the Determination of the Minimum Number of Individuals from the Tell Abraq Tomb, UAE

ANNA J. OSTERHOLTZ and DEBRA L. MARTIN.

Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Thursday Morning, 200DE Add to calendar

The tomb at Tell Abraq (UAE) was excavated in 1993 and 1998 and dates to the Late Bronze Age (c. 2100 BCE). This is a large collective tomb in the Umm an-Nar style and represents a 200-year period of usage by the community. Contained within the tomb are the remains of adults and children, males and females. All are commingled, some may represent secondary burials, and almost all bone elements are relatively identifiable, but fragmentary due to normal taphonomic processes. Determining the minimum number of individuals (MNI) and demography of the large number of commingled human remains from Tell Abraq required recording of both individual bones and bone features. This project focuses on the representation of elements and the resulting demographic profile. For example, the MNI for adults is 286 based on the right talus but 131 based on the distal left humerus. Sex ratios for post-cranial elements are consistent demonstrating approximately 65% male and 35% female regardless of the element examined. The cranial MNI is significantly lower, particularly for adult males. The sex ratio within cranial elements is approximately equal between males and females. Variation in element representation can reveal cultural practices (such as the removal of adult male crania as part of a secondary burial practice) and taphonomic variables (differential preservation, missing elements, secondary interments). This method for the determination of MNI for large commingled assemblages that are fragmentary demonstrates the utility of using bone features.

The Graduate and Professional Student Association of UNLV provided funding for this presentation.

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