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

Exploration of First Intermediate Period Burials at Mendes


Behavioral Sciences Department, Triton College

Thursday All day, Park Concourse Add to calendar

The site of Mendes (modern Tel El-Ruba) occupies a place of prominence in the history of Egypt. Located approximately 120 kilometers north of modern Cairo, in the eastern delta, Mendes served as an ancient capital, trade center, and point of entry from the earliest periods of Egyptian history through to the Late Period.

Led by Drs. Donald and Susan Redford, the Pennsylvania State Expedition to Mendes returned in summer of 2012 to continue excavations, unearthing five First Intermediate Period burials. Radiocarbon dates from past seasons securely placed these burials in the First Intermediate Period (approximately 4200 BP). Of the five burials, three were classified as “adult” and two were classified as “sub-adult.” The very poor skeletal preservation made exact age and sex estimation difficult.

These burials offer new information about health and burial strategy in a period of Egyptian history which is little studied. Because of the degraded skeletal tissue, the most important information about health was gleaned from the teeth, which were relatively well preserved. Linear enamel hypoplasia were observable on the teeth, in occlusion, of all individuals, and in the case of the sub-adult individuals, on un-erupted dentition also. This observation becomes very important when viewed vis-à-vis burial strategy and age. Though buried in similar fashion, these burials do exhibit distinction which could be attributed to socio-economic differentiation. That being the case, it appears that inadequate nutrition and disease affected the population of First Intermediate Period Mendes irrespective of social position and over an extended period.

Special thanks to The American Schools of Oriental Research Platt Excavation Fellowship for grant support.

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