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

Odontometric variation among three ethno-linguistic groups from the rugged mountain highlands of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan: testing historical hypotheses with tooth size allocation analysis


Anthropology, California State University, Bakersfield

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The Shin, Wakhi, and Burusho are ethno-linguistic groups found in the Gilgit-Baltistan province of northern Pakistan. Odontometric data collected from geographically distinct samples of Wakhis (n=326), Shins (n =333), and Burushos (n=284) are compared to test the claim of close biological affinities between members of high-status castes of north India and members of ethno-linguistic groups of northern Pakistan. This comparison further tests the reliability of historical, linguistic, and geographic criteria for predicting population affinities. Biological affinities of Gilgit-Baltistani highlanders are placed into wider perspective through comparison with 24 living and prehistoric populations from Central Asia, the Indus Valley, and peninsular India.

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. 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 hierarchical cluster analysis, neighbor-joining cluster analysis, multi-dimensional scaling, and principal co-ordinates analysis. The results suggest that historical accounts, linguistic association and geographic location do provide meaningful indicators of biological relatedness among the living ethnic groups of the Gilgit-Baltistani highlands. The marked absence of close affinities between these living ethnic groups and archaeological samples from the Indus Valley confirms Hemphill et al’s (2012) assertion that many of the contemporaneous populations of the Karakoram highlands represent recent immigrants to the northwestern periphery of South Asia.

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