The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)


MNI and sex estimation in two Umm an-Nar tombs from the UAE

JAIME ULLINGER1, LESLEY GREGORICKA2, CHÁYLEE ARELLANO3, QUENTIN BURKE4, VICTORIA CALVIN2, CHARLES DOWNEY5, RACHEL HEIL6, ALYSSA MCGRATH7, SILVIO ERNESTO MIRABAL TORRES8 and JEREMY SIMMONS9.

1Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Anthropology, Quinnipiac University, 2Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, University of South Alabama, 3Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, 4Biology, Quinnipiac University, 5Anthropology and Sociology, Albion College, 6Anthropology, California State University Fullerton, 7Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, 8Human Behavior, College of Southern Nevada, 9Anthropology, College of William and Mary

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Commingled tombs are often overlooked in bioarchaeological studies because of the difficult nature of analysis, despite their prevalence across the ancient world. Tombs Unar 1 (U1) and Unar 2 (U2), located in the United Arab Emirates, date to the Umm an-Nar period (2700-2000 BCE), when people witnessed shifts in mortuary practices likely reflective of broader changes in subsistence and social organization. A collaborative project that trains undergraduates in anthropological research has examined tomb membership for U1 and U2 by estimating MNI and sex. Despite early descriptions of U1 and U2 holding similar numbers of individuals, this project found that MNI was greater in U2 when counting non-duplicating elements from the talus (U1: 88; U2: 228), mandible (U1: 101; U2: 290), and petrous portion of the temporal (U1: 190; U2: 403) whether using landmark or zonation methods. Metric analyses of the humerus found a relatively similar proportion of males and females in each tomb (X2=0.06, df=1, p=0.81). While an assessment of the lateral angle of the internal auditory meatus and the mastoid process found greater numbers of women entombed in both tombs, there was no difference in sex distribution between the tombs (Fisher’s exact: p>0.05 for both techniques). These results suggest that U2 was open to the interment of a larger number of individuals; however, while different sex estimation methods produced similar sex distributions between the tombs, the methods themselves varied considerably in estimating overall frequencies of males and females. Future research using additional sex estimation techniques is warranted.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation - Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant (Award #1852426).


Slides/Poster (pdf)