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

An odontometric investigation of the biological origins of the Baltis: a Tibeto-Burman speaking population of Northern Pakistan


Anthropology, California State University, Bakersfield

Friday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

The Baltis are a Tibeto-Burman speaking ethnic group who reside in northern Pakistan. Most authorities claim that Baltis have Tibetan origin, but Y-chromosome variations (Qamar et al. 2002) did not confirm this. Backstrom (1992) asserts that even if Baltis do have Tibetan origins, they experienced extensive admixture with local Dardic-speaking populations after their arrival in Gilgit-Baltistan.

This research identifies Balti origins through a comparative analysis of permanent tooth size allocation among 180 Balti young adults from Partuk, located in northern Pakistan. Maximum mesiodistal and buccolingual measurements were obtained for all permanent teeth, except third molars, in accordance with standardized methods. Individual measurements were scaled against the geometric mean to control for sex dimorphism and evolutionary tooth size reduction. These data were contrasted with 21 samples of prehistoric and living individuals from Pakistan, peninsular India, Central Asia, and the Iranian Plateau. Inter-sample differences in tooth size allocation were assessed with pairwise squared Euclidian distances, and the patterning of phenetic affinities among samples was assessed with neighbor-joining cluster analysis and principal co-ordinates analysis.

The results indicate that Baltis occupy an isolated phenetic position with some, albeit rather distant, affitinites to other ethnic groups that occupy the rugged highlands of northern Pakistan. Baltis share no affinities to living peninsular Indians, or to prehistoric samples from Central Asia and the Indus Valley of Pakistan. These results are consistent with a scenario that calls for Balti origins among Tibetan populations, with some, but by no means extensive, admixture with local non-Tibetan Dardic-speaking populations.

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