Bioarchaeology of the Near East, 5:19-40 (2011)

Nubian identity in the Bronze Age. Patterns of cultural and biological variation

Michele R. Buzon

Department of Anthropology, Purdue University,
700 W. State Street, West Lafayette IN 47907, USA

Abstract: This study uses a bioarchaeological approach to examine the cultural and biological relationships between two groups who lived in ancient Nubia during the Bronze Age, C-Group and Kerma. While archaeological evidence indicates that these groups show many cultural similarities, reflections of behaviors such as pottery use and mortuary practices suggest that C-Group and Kerma displayed their ethnic differences in specific situations within a multi-ethnic context. Biological affinities assessed using cranial measurements suggest a common ancestry with few shape differences between the populations. Overall, the Kerma crania are larger than the C-Group crania, which could be accounted for by environmental and/or social variation. With the combination of data used in this research, a more nuanced understanding of these two contemporaneous Nubian populations is achieved.

Key words: Nile Valley; Kerma; C-Group; Sudan; cranial measurements; biodistance; ethnicity; mortuary practices

Received 13 February 2012; accepted 26 April 2012; published online 18 May 2012.

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