The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Investigating Activity at the Third Cataract (Nubia): Entheseal Remodeling at Kerma and Tombos


Department of Anthropology, Purdue University

Thursday 8:15-8:30, 200ABC Add to calendar

The ancient city of Kerma was once capital to the Kerma civilization, otherwise known as Kush, which thrived in Upper Nubia from ~2,500-1,500 BC. However, this prosperity ended when the Egyptian Empire conquered Nubia with the emergence of the New Kingdom Period (1,550-1,069 BC). Archaeological evidence suggests the town of Kerma was abandoned as the Empire began implementing various methods of consolidation, such as the construction of temple towns, the promotion of local administrators, and socioeconomic reorganization. Located 10km north of Kerma, Tombos is an example of an administrative center that was created at the beginning of the New Kingdom (~1,550 BC) and was cohabitated by both Egyptians and Nubians. It is not possible to determine if any of the Tombos inhabitants were from Kerma, however, the proximity and chronological relationship between the two presents an interesting point of comparison.

This study examines entheseal remodeling, as a proxy for physically strenuous activities, studying the variation between the Kerma and Tombos samples. Evidence suggests both males and females of Kerma were engaging in significantly higher levels of manual labor than the people of Tombos, despite age and body size controls. This supports the idea that Tombos served the Third Cataract region as an administrative center during the New Kingdom. Furthermore, this investigation also indicates that the inhabitants of Kerma were engaging in relatively rigorous physical labor and, thus, the transition to imperial power might not have been as detrimental to local lifeways as once thought.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (#1128950) and the Global Synergy Grant (Purdue, University).

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