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Who were the people of the Fourth Cataract? Using dental non-metric traits to explore population history in the middle Nile valley from the Neolithic to Medieval period

Phillips, E (2023) Who were the people of the Fourth Cataract? Using dental non-metric traits to explore population history in the middle Nile valley from the Neolithic to Medieval period. Diploma thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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The 4th Cataract human skeletal collection, curated at the British Museum, is unique containing remains dating from the Kerma to Medieval periods, but from within a 30km region along the Nile. The geographically focused nature of this collection provides opportunities to explore biological continuity, in situ evolution, and migration. Nubia has a long and rich history with distinct shifts in cultural practices. Situated between sub-Saharan Africa to the south and Egypt/Mediterranean to the north, Nubia is often considered a corridor through the Sahara. Many archaeological excavations have taken place there in the recent years, steadily increasing the number of skeletal collections available for study. These distinctive qualities make Nubia ideal for investigating population movement and origins of the cultures that developed there.

Dental nonmetric traits, following the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System, were used to study inter-group differences based on biodistances. Both model-free and model-bound statistical analyses were used. Data from the 4th Cataract were compared to samples from Upper and Lower Nubia to investigate both geographical and temporal patterning. Results were then contextualised further through comparisons with samples from East Africa and proximate regions in Eurasia.

Results revealed biological continuity in the 4th Cataract region from the Kerma through Medieval periods (MMD range 0.001 - 0.082). Continuity was also observed in Upper and Lower Nubia from the Neolithic onwards. Evidence for the movement of people was identified in the data, but changes were not wholesale and varied depending on region/time-period. Comparisons with East African and Eurasian published data showed that both regions were important influences in Nubian populations. Similarities between Nubian and sub-Saharan groups appear to be clinal, with influence from this region diminishing temporally from the Neolithic onwards. Biological affinities with Egyptian/Eurasian groups revealed geographical patterning, but also appear to be related to the Egyptian invasion of Nubia. This study also found that the relationship between cultural change and population movement was complex. This research highlights the importance of using both archaeological and biological methods when investigating past population dynamics.

Item Type: Thesis (Diploma)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dental nonmetric traits; Nubia; Population dynamics
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 14:43
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 14:43
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00021676
Supervisors: Irish, JD and Antoine, D
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/21676
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