The 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2014)

Incisor microwear textures point to status differences at Amarna, Egypt


Department of Anthropology, Loyola University Chicago

April 12, 2014 , Telus CC Exhibit Hall E5 Add to calendar

Incisor microwear texture analysis is utilized to indicate intergroup differences in diet, abrasive loads, and non-dietary anterior tooth use behaviors; however, it is used here to identify potential intragroup status disparities. The sample consists of New Kingdom Egyptians from Amarna, Pharaoh Akhenaten’s capital city, using permanent maxillary central incisors. High-resolution dental casts were scanned using a Sensofar Plμ white-light confocal profiler. Four adjacent labial surface scans were taken with a 100x objective lens, totaling a work envelope of 204x276 μm. Toothfrax and SFrax scale-sensitive fractal analysis software characterized the microwear features. Specimens were analyzed from four excavation areas of the South Tombs Cemetery, including the Upper, Middle, Lower, and Wadi Mouth areas (n=35).

The original hypothesis states the Amarna individuals would show similar microwear textures regardless of burial area; however, preliminary results indicate several differences among excavation areas. Specifically, the Upper site demonstrated the highest mean anisotropy value of all the areas, with the Middle, Wadi Mouth, and Lower sites having progressively lower values. Similarly, the Upper site Tfv mean value was the lowest, while other areas showed significantly higher means. Lastly, the low complexity average in the Upper site contrasted with the much higher values of the other sites. These pilot results suggest that the Upper site individuals relied on a softer diet and participated in minimal non-dietary anterior tooth use behaviors with low anterior loading regimes, while values from the other excavation areas indicate the opposite. When combined, these data point to potential status differences at Amarna.

This study was funded by Loyola University Chicago’s Research Support Grant to KLK.