The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Craniometric variation in Ancient Egypt and influences from the East


1Department of Applied Forensic Sciences, Mercyhurst University, 2Director, Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium, 3Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba

March 26, 2015 , Archview Ballroom Add to calendar

Egypt’s central location between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa likely contributed to its genetic diversity. Numerous studies have analyzed population variation of Ancient Egyptians to establish their origins. Debate about its affinity has historically focused on ancestry and the effects of migration into Egypt from the Nubian corridor, Red Sea littoral, and the eastern Mediterranean. While these regions surely contributed to Egypt’s diversity, few studies have examined how this manifested in a particular location. What might the “local data” indicate about the broader implications of diverse morphometric expression?

For this research, 16 cranial measurements were collected from 3D computed tomography models of 25 Egyptian mummies, most of which originated from Akhmim and primarily date to the Ptolemaic Period. Individuals were classified using discriminant function analysis and cluster analysis into the Howells’ Craniometric Data Bank. These results were then situated within our current understanding of Egyptian population affinity.

The results suggest a high degree of heterogeneity. Seven individuals classified as Egyptian, while three classified into another African group and nine classified into Asian groups. Using cluster analysis, most individuals grouped within Howells’ Egyptians with the exception of one. The proximity of the Arabian Peninsula to Egypt and the narrowness of the Red Sea likely facilitated the migration of populations from Eastern and Western Asia into Egypt. The high percentage of individuals (36%) that classified into an Asian group rather than the Egyptian, African, or European samples may also suggest a greater influx of groups from the East then previously considered.

Support provided by the University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship, Manitoba Graduate Scholarship, Canada Research Chairs program, and University of Manitoba Faculty of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Arts, and Anthropology Department.