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


Growing Up in Akhetaten: A Bio-cultural Approach to Childhood Growth

ASHLEY E. SHIDNER.

Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas

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The childhood growth of the children from the South Tomb cemetery at Tell el-Amarna is examined. Tell el-Amarna is the site of Akhetaten, the ancient Egyptian capital of the Pharaoh Akhenaten. No previous city or temples existed at Tell el-Amarna prior to Akhenaten building his capital (c. 1346 BCE) and it was abandoned shortly after his death. The skeletal population of the South Tomb Cemetery represents a brief period of time (15 to 20 years) in Egyptian history. The South Tomb cemetery has the shortest adult stature reported in Egypt suggesting extensive childhood stress.

Two hundred forty-nine individuals have been excavated from the South Tomb cemetery. Sixty-five individuals ranging in age from 4.5 months to 16.5 years were used in this analysis. Growth was assessed using long bone lengths in relation to bio-cultural life stages that were extracted from the historical ethnographic records of ancient Egypt and human life history patterns. Maresh mean long bone lengths for age were used as the optimal standard in the analysis.

Individual ╬┤lmean values indicate that 90.8% of the subsample falls below the line of unity and that 70.8% of the subsample is below 0.90. The children of Amarna appear to be suffering from both an early (between 1 to 3 years) and possible later juvenile/adolescent (after 8.5 years) growth disruptions that are associated with specific bio-cultural life transitions at Akhetaten. Results of the growth analysis indicate that the children of Akhetaten on the whole are not reaching their growth potential.

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