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

HADDOW, SD; (2012) Dental Morphological Analysis of Roman Era Burials from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Ismant el-Kharab (ancient Kellis) is an archaeological site in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, which dates from the late Ptolemaic to the late Roman period. Previous studies of skeletal material from Kellis and other oasis sites suggest that the ancient population of the Dakhleh Oasis was largely homogenous and inbred as a result of geographic isolation. Archaeological and textual evidence however, indicates a record of contact with the Nile Valley and regions further afield since the Neolithic. In order to test these apparently conflicting narratives, descriptive and multivariate statistical methods are employed in an analysis of heritable dental morphological variants in 186 individuals from Kellis. Variation in dental morphological trait frequencies are commonly used in biological distance studies to assess phenetic relationships between groups. The present study has two main 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 interregional comparison between the Kellis skeletal assemblage and groups from Egypt, Nubia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa in order to place the ancient Dakhleh Oasis population within a broader regional context. The results of the intra-cemetery analysis demonstrate 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. This may indicate a kin-structured area of the cemetery, or alternatively, an area reserved for individuals who are not native to the Dakhleh Oasis. 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.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Dental Morphological Analysis of Roman Era Burials from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1370585
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