Matching Items (3)

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Ritual Violence and the Perception of Social Difference: Migration and Human Sacrifice in the Epiclassic Basin of Mexico

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Archaeologists have long contended that large-scale human migrations played an essential role in the cultural development of pre-Hispanic central Mexico. During the Epiclassic period (600-900 CE), migration is implicated in

Archaeologists have long contended that large-scale human migrations played an essential role in the cultural development of pre-Hispanic central Mexico. During the Epiclassic period (600-900 CE), migration is implicated in the appearance of new forms of material culture, sociopolitical disruptions, and the emergence of new regional polities. Sweeping social changes accompanied these developments, including demographic reorganization and increased levels of violence. Research across the social sciences finds that violence directed at individuals perceived as categorically distinct also typically increases during such periods of socio-political upheaval. This dissertation investigates identity-based violence in the Epiclassic Basin of Mexico to consider how diverse social identities contributed to the selection of victims of ritual violence.

This research examines the skeletal remains from a sacrificial deposit at the Epiclassic shrine site of Non-Grid 4 in the Basin of Mexico, where a minimum of 180 human crania were interred as ritual offerings. The project reconstructs patterns of paleomobility and biological relatedness to determine whether individuals with distinct categorical social identities were more likely to become victims of human sacrifice. It answers the questions: (1) Were the sacrificed individuals predominantly locals who lived in the Basin of Mexico throughout their lives?; (2) Were the sacrificed individuals comprised of a single kin-group biologically continuous with pre-extant populations in the Basin of Mexico?; and (3) If victims were migrants biologically discontinuous with antecedent populations, from where in ancient Mesoamerica did they originate?

Results indicate that a majority of sacrificial victims were immigrants originating north and south of the Basin of Mexico. Biogeochemical analyses of sacrificed individuals find that 80% are non-local migrants into the Basin, suggesting that they were likely targeted for violence based on their divergent residential histories. Multi-scalar biodistance analyses of Non-Grid 4 sacrificial victims demonstrate that they represent two biologically distinct groups. There was evidence, however, for both biological continuity among victims and pre-extant central Mexican populations, as well as for migration from northern and southern Mexico. This project therefore not only improves knowledge of migration during the central Mexican Epiclassic, but also contributes to broader anthropological understandings of the social context of violence.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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The Amarna South Tombs Cemetery: Biocultural Dynamics of a Disembedded Capital City in New Kingdom Egypt

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The Egyptian New Kingdom city of Akhetaten (modern: Tell el-Amarna, el-Amarna, or simply Amarna) provides a unique opportunity to study ancient biocultural dynamics. It was a disembedded capital removed from

The Egyptian New Kingdom city of Akhetaten (modern: Tell el-Amarna, el-Amarna, or simply Amarna) provides a unique opportunity to study ancient biocultural dynamics. It was a disembedded capital removed from the major power bases of Memphis and Thebes that was built, occupied, and abandoned within approximately 20 years (c. 1352–1336 BCE). This dissertation used the recently excavated Amarna South Tombs cemetery to test competing models for the development of disembedded capitals, such as the geographic origin of its migrants and its demographic structure in comparison to contrastive models for the establishment of settlements. The degree to which biological relatedness organized the South Tombs cemetery was also explored. The results suggest that the Nile Valley into the New Kingdom (1539–1186 BCE) was very diverse in dental cervical phenotype and thus highly mobile in respects to gene flow, failing to reject that the Amarna city was populated by individuals and families throughout the Nile Valley. In comparison, the Amarna South Tombs cemetery contained the least amount of dental phenotypic diversity, supporting a founder effect due to migration from larger, more diverse gene pools to the city or the very fact that the city and sample only reflect a 20-year interval with little time to accumulate phenotypic variation. Parts of the South Tombs cemetery also appear to be organized by biological affinity, showing consistent and significant spatial autocorrelation with biological distances generated from dental cervical measurements in male, female, and subadult (10–19 years of age) burials closest to the South Tombs. This arrangement mimics the same orderliness in the residential areas of the Amarna city itself with officials surrounded by families that supported their administration. Throughout the cemetery, adult female grave shaft distances predict their biological distances, signaling a nuclear family dynamic that included many females including mothers, widows, and unwed aunts, nieces, and daughters. A sophisticated paleodemographic model using simulated annealing optimization projected the living population of the South Tombs cemetery, which overall conformed to a transplanted community similar to 19th century mill villages of the United States and United Kingdom.

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Date Created
  • 2018

Developing an infrastructure for biodistance research using deciduous dental phenotypes

Description

Bioarchaeologists often use dental data and spatial analysis of cemeteries to infer the biological and social structure of ancient communities. This approach is commonly referred to as biological distance (“biodistance”)

Bioarchaeologists often use dental data and spatial analysis of cemeteries to infer the biological and social structure of ancient communities. This approach is commonly referred to as biological distance (“biodistance”) analysis. While permanent crown data feature prominently in these efforts, few studies have verified the accuracy of biodistance methods for recognizing child relatives using deciduous teeth. Thus, as subadults comprise an essential demographic subset of mortuary assemblages, deciduous phenotypes may represent a critical but underutilized source of information on the underlying genetic structure of past populations. The goal of the dissertation is to​ quantitatively analyze the developmental program underlying deciduous phenotypes and​ to evaluate their performance in accurately reconstructing known genealogical relationships.​ This project quantifies morphological variation of deciduous and permanent tooth crowns from stone dental casts representing individuals of known pedigree deriving from three distinct populations: European Canadians, European Australians, and Aboriginal Australians.

To address the paucity of deciduous-focused validation research, phenotypic distances generated from the dental data are subjected to performance analyses (biodistance simulations) and compared to genetic distances between individuals. While family-specific results vary, crown morphology performs moderately well in distinguishing relatives from non-relatives. Comparisons between deciduous and permanent results (i.e., Euclidean distances, Mantel tests, multidimensional scaling output) indicate that deciduous crown variation provides a more direct reflection of the underlying genetic structure of pedigreed samples. The morphology data are then analyzed within a quantitative genetic framework using maximum likelihood variance components analysis. Novel narrow-sense heritability and pleiotropy estimates are generated for the complete suite of deciduous and permanent crown characters, which facilitates comparisons between samples, traits, dentitions, arcades, antimeres, metameres, scoring standards, and dichotomization breakpoints. Results indicate wide-ranging but moderate heritability estimates for morphological traits, as well as low to moderate integration for characters within (deciduous-deciduous; permanent-permanent) and between (deciduous-permanent) dentitions. On average, deciduous and permanent homologues are more strongly genetically correlated than characters within the same tooth row. Results are interpreted with respect to dental development and biodistance methodology. Ultimately, the dissertation empirically validates the use of dental morphology as a proxy for underlying genetic information, including deciduous characters.

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Date Created
  • 2017