Leprosy, Segregation, & Burial Context: Remote Desert Living in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt

Author(s): Amanda Groff; Tosha Dupras

Year: 2016


Stable oxygen isotope analysis of tooth enamel and bone apatite from adults afflicted with leprosy from the Kellis 2 cemetery (50-450 AD) in the Dakhleh Oasis provides insight into social perceptions of disease stigma during the Roman-Christian era in Egypt. Because there are no grave markers found in Kellis 2, this research focuses on the spatial analysis of stable isotope results to develop an interpretation of the burial location of leprosy cases. In particular, stable oxygen isotopes, which have been used to interpret migration and/or place of origin, are utilized to address the segregation of leprosy cases in a burial context. Two primary questions are addressed in this is study: 1. Did the physical manifestations of leprosy cause the afflicted to be segregated from the general public?; and 2. Was the Dakhleh Oasis used as a safe haven or place of banishment for the ill? Results of this study indicate that foreign individuals with leprosy were primarily confined to one location in the cemetery indicating segregation did likely occur. However, we argue that while the ill may have been segregated, their appearance in the cemetery is likely related to the naturally occurring alum mineral used for healing.

Cite this Record

Leprosy, Segregation, & Burial Context: Remote Desert Living in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. Amanda Groff, Tosha Dupras. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403934)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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