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

Dental Morphological Analysis of Roman-Era Burials from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt


Cranfield Forensic Institute, Cranfield University, UK

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Kellis 2 is a cemetery in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, dating to the Roman period. Previous studies of skeletal material from Kellis and other oasis sites suggest that the ancient population of the Dakhleh Oasis was homogenous and inbred as a result of geographic isolation. Archaeological and textual evidence, however, indicate a record of contact with the Nile Valley since the Neolithic. Descriptive and multivariate statistical methods are employed in an analysis of heritable dental morphological variants in 186 individuals from Kellis using the ASU Dental Anthropology System. The study has two components: 1) an intra-cemetery assessment of inter-sex and inter-group morphological variation in order to identify related individuals within the Kellis 2 cemetery and provide evidence for post-marital residence patterns; and 2) an inter-regional comparison between the Kellis assemblage and groups from Egypt, Nubia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa in order to place the oasis population within a regional context. The results of the intra-cemetery analysis indicate low levels of inter-sex phenetic variation consistent with an isolated and possibly interbred population. Spatial analysis within the Kellis 2 cemetery has tentatively identified one area containing individuals with distinctive dental trait frequencies. The results of the inter-regional comparison of trait frequencies demonstrate an overall affinity with North African populations, especially with several early Upper Egyptian and contemporary Lower Nubian groups. Despite these similarities, however, the Kellis assemblage remains relatively distinct in relation to the comparative groups. This is consistent with a geographically isolated population experiencing limited gene-flow.

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