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

Linear enamel hypoplasia frequencies with the rise of urbanism at Tel Megiddo


1Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, 2Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, Department of Anthropology, The George Washington University, 3Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, The George Washington University, 4Anthropology Division, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

The rise of urbanism has often been linked to changing patterns of physiological stress corresponding with population density and resource availability. In this study, we compared the pre-urban Chalcolithic (4300-3300 BCE) and the urbanized Late Bronze Age (LBA) (1550-1200 BCE) skeletal collections from Megiddo, Israel-Palestine, housed at the Smithsonian Institution. Linear enamel hypoplasias were used as a general stress indicator and compared by employing chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests (n=744; p<0.05). There was no significant difference between the permanent teeth of the two periods (p=0.47). Anterior teeth showed considerable sensitivity to LEH formation compared to posterior teeth (p<0.00001), but still lacked significant difference by period (p=0.069). The Chalcolithic tombs had large enough samples to compare between them. The most well-built (probably highest status) tomb, T-910, showed significantly higher incidence than either T-903U (p<0.00001) or T-1103 (p=0.0037), implying a link between status and stress before the amplified social stratification of urbanism. While urbanism is typically linked to higher stress due to increasing population density and subsequent decreasing resource availability, there was no discernible difference in this sample. Possible causes include the fact that LBA Megiddo, as a wealthy hierarchy center, imported much of its food from the Jezreel Valley. It also experienced the region-wide trend of de-urbanization, alleviating the density of the large population. This increase of resources and decentralization of the populace may have helped off-put the stressors associated with urbanization.

Luther Rice Undergraduate Fellowship, The George Washington University; Presidential Fellowship, University of Notre Dame; Conference Funding from the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, University of Notre Dame

Slides/Poster (pdf)