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

The Awans of northern Pakistan—emigrants from Central Asia, Arabs from western Afghanistan, or colonists from peninsular India?: a dental morphometric investigation


Anthropology, California State University, Bakersfield

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The Awans are a well-known ethnic group found in the southern districts of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. Awans claim to be immigrants from western Afghanistan. However, Brandreth (Ibbetson, 2001) asserts that Awans emigrated from north-central Afghanistan. Other researchers claim the Awans are indigenous South Asians, being related to either Rajput or Jat populations of peninsular India (Cunningham, 2010) or to local ethnic groups of the northern Indus Valley of Pakistan (Dani, 1993).

This investigation is based on measurement of maximum mesiodistal lengths and buccolingual breadths of all permanent teeth, except third molars, and assessment of dental morphology variations scored in accordance with the Arizona State University Dental Morphology System in a sample of 176 Awan young adults. These data were contrasted with 21 samples of prehistoric and living individuals from Pakistan, peninsular India, Central Asia, and the Iranian Plateau. Patterns of intersample differences were examined with neighbor-joining cluster analysis and principal coordinates analysis.

Results obtained from odontometric and dental morphology analyses are highly congruent. In both cases, Awans are identified as possessing closest affinities to prehistoric inhabitants of the Indus Valley, with more distant affinities to living ethnic groups from the Hindu Kush highlands and inhabitants of peninsular India. Awans share little to no affinities to prehistoric inhabitants of Central Asia. Such results suggest that the living Awans of Mansehra District most likely represent the descendants of indigenous populations of the Indus Valley of Pakistan, and provide no support for claims of Central Asian or peninsular Indian origins.

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