Take Me Home Desert Roads…Stable Oxygen Isotope Analysis and Migration in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt

Author(s): Amanda Groff; John Krigbaum; Tosha Dupras

Year: 2015


Analysis of stable oxygen isotope ratios in adult bone apatite and tooth enamel from the Kellis 2 cemetery (50-450 AD) in the Dakhleh Oasis allows for greater insight into ancient migration between this remote locality and the Nile Valley. Analyses of 45 adult males and 35 adult females are compared against δ18O values from three contemporaneous Roman-Christian sites and one New Kingdom site located along the Nile Valley. The average δ18Ovsmow value for the Nile Valley sample is -31.61‰ +/- 1.84, while δ18O values for individuals recovered from the Dakhleh Oasis average -26.86‰ +/- 1.31. Comparison with δ18O values from the Nile Valley suggests that 12 individuals from Kellis 2 cemetery spent significant time in the Nile Valley. Specifically, results show 33 of the 35 females sampled were local to the Dakhleh Oasis, while 10 of the 45 males sampled show evidence of extended time spent along the Nile. These results are supported by ancient sources that document males as traveling in caravans or participating in apprenticeships along the Nile and Delta. By evaluating ancient migration of individuals interred at the Kellis 2 cemetery, we can address pertinent questions regarding the social organization and gendered mobility of this ancient community.

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Take Me Home Desert Roads…Stable Oxygen Isotope Analysis and Migration in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. Amanda Groff, Tosha Dupras, John Krigbaum. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397721)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;