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Life in times of change – A bioarchaeological perspective on health and living conditions in Upper Nubia in the late 2nd and early 1st millennium BC

Author(s): Michaela Binder ; Charlotte Roberts ; Neal Spencer

Year: 2017

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Summary

With the end of the Pharaonic Egyptian colonial occupation c. 1070BC and the increasing deterioration of climatic conditions, communities in Upper Nubia faced significant changes, both to the political structure (which may have affected trade networks), and to the agricultural potential of the region (e.g. availability of arable land). This presentation aims to elucidate if, and in what ways, these alterations impacted upon the living conditions of the people in the area, using the skeletal human remains from the cemeteries of the colonial administrative centre at Amara West (N=180). Analysis of markers of physiological stress and disease (stature, orbital changes, dental disease, non-specific infection, respiratory diseases, endocranial changes, trauma, osteoarthritis), and oxygen and carbon isotopes, are complemented by contextual data drawn from the cemeteries, settlement and surrounding habitat.

Despite limitations due to the bias in sample size, a systematic analysis reveals several tentative trends such as decreasing stature, increased levels of osteoarthritis, dental pathologies, pulmonary diseases, post-cranial fractures and higher sub-adult mortality. Embedded within the environmental, isotopic, historic and archaeological data, they point to an overall degeneration in living conditions of the population reflecting the impact of severe changes to the environmental, settlement structure and subsistence affecting the region.


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Life in times of change – A bioarchaeological perspective on health and living conditions in Upper Nubia in the late 2nd and early 1st millennium BC. Michaela Binder, Charlotte Roberts, Neal Spencer. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429368)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16734

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America