Bioarchaeology of the Near East, 15:1-24 (2021)

The people of Avaris: Intra-regional biodistance analysis using dental non-metric traits

Nina Maaranen* (1), Sonia Zakrzewski (2), Arwa Kharobi (1), Chris Stantis (1,3), Silvia Prell (4), Manfred Bietak (4), Holger Schutkowski (1)

(1) Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Bournemouth University,
Fern Barrow, Wallisdown, Poole BH12 5BB, UK
email: (corresponding author)
(2) Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton,
Avenue Campus, Southampton, SO17 1BF, UK
(3) Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History,
Washington, District of Columbia, USA
(4) Austrian Academy of Sciences,
Hollandstraße 11+13, 1020 Vienna, Austria

Abstract: Dental non-metric traits have become widely used to estimate biological affinities, particularly by utilizing the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System (ASUDAS). Here, we offer information from the Middle Bronze Age site of Avaris, located near modern Tell el-Dab’a in the Egyptian Nile Delta, that was ruled by the Hyksos kings during the Second Intermediate Period (circa 1640–1530 BCE).

Dental non-metric traits were recorded from a sample of individuals (n=90) and analyzed using mean measure of divergence (MMD). Both intra- and inter-site analyses were conducted. The former compared the ancestry between locals and non-locals, defined isotopically by a recent study. The latter compared Avaris to other Egyptian sites to gauge its population distinctiveness.

Results indicated that individuals defined as locals and non-locals were not ancestrally different from one another. There was, however, a significant difference (p<0.01) between the pooled locals and non-locals of Avaris and other Egyptian sites, regardless of spatial and/or temporal proximity. The results are in line with the archaeological evidence, suggesting Avaris was an important hub in the Middle Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean trade network, welcoming people from beyond its borders.

Key words: osteology; ASUDAS; dental anthropology; migration; Egypt

Received 17 April 2021; accepted 16 November 2021; published online 31 December 2021.

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