Population continuity vs. discontinuity revisited: Dental affinities among late Paleolithic through Christian-era Nubians
Dr. Joel D. Irish *
The present study revisits a subject that has been a source of long-standing bioarchaeological contention, namely, estimation of Nubian population origins and affinities. Using the Arizona State University dental anthropology system, frequencies of 36 crown, root, and intraoral osseous discrete traits in 12 late Pleistocene through early historic Nubian samples were recorded and analyzed. Specifically, intersample phenetic affinities, and an indication of which traits are most important in driving this variation, were determined through the application of correspondence analysis and the mean measure of divergence distance statistic. The results support previous work by the author and others indicating that population discontinuity, in the form of replacement or significant gene flow into an existing gene pool, occurred sometime after the Pleistocene. This analysis now suggests that the break occurred before the Final Neolithic. Samples from the latter through Christian periods exhibit relative homogeneity, which implies overall post-Pleistocene diachronic and regional population continuity. Yet there are several perceptible trends among these latter samples that: 1) are consistent with documented Nubian population history, 2) enable the testing of several existing peopling hypotheses, and 3) allow the formulation of new hypotheses, including a suggestion of two post-Pleistocene subgroups predicated on an age-based sample dichotomy. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
This paper re-examines some of the methods and craniometric findings in the classic volume The Ancient Inhabitants of Jebel Moya (Sudan) (1955) by Mukherjee, Rao & Trevor, in light of recent archaeological data and relative to a new dental morphological study. Archaeological evidence characterises these inhabitants as having been heavily influenced by outside sources; yet they managed to establish and maintain their own distinctive culture as seen in the site features and surviving artefact collections. The dental study, modelled after the original craniometric-based investigation and using the same or similar comparative samples, detected complementary indications of outside biological influence. In the study, up to 36 dental traits were recorded in a total of 19 African samples. The most influential traits in driving inter-sample variation were then identified, and phenetic affinities were calculated using the Mahalanobis D2 statistic for non-metric traits. If phenetic similarity provides an estimate of genetic relatedness, these affinities, like the original craniometric findings, suggest that the Jebel Moyans exhibited a mosaic of features that are reminiscent of, yet distinct from, both sub-Saharan and North African peoples. Together, these different lines of evidence correspond to portray the Jebel Moya populace as a uniform, although distinct, biocultural amalgam. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
The first item does seem to suggest that there was a population influx into the Nubian area. My guess this would probably be the expansion of the Neolithic farmers from the middle East.
Dental reduction in post-pleistocene Nubia
James M. Calcagno
Tooth size changes among Nubian archaeological populations dating from the Mesolithic through the Christian era, a period of approximately 12,000 years, are analyzed. Standard length and breadth dimensions of all permanent teeth from several cultural horizons are combined to form three large samples: Mesolithic, 10000-7000 B.C.; Agriculturalist, 3300-1100 B.C. (A-group, C-group, Pharaonic); and Intensive Agriculturalist, A.D. 0-1400 (Meroitic, X-Group, Christian). Such information not only fills a void in the knowledge of Nubian skeletal biology, but also provides a much needed African reference point for the comparison of tooth size data among anatomically modern Homo sapiens from various regions of the world.
Changes in mean tooth size and associated t-tests reveal strong and significant reduction in dental size between the Mesolithic and Agriculturalist samples, followed by a continued although diminished trend of reduction for only the molar teeth between the two Agriculturalist groups. These patterns are best observed by examining tooth breadths, which are considered as the most reliable indicator of tooth size. Previously published odontometrics of the Nubian Mesolithic are briefly compared to the findings of this diachronic analysis of Nubian dental change. Revised: 30 January 1986