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Nina Maaranen, Jessica Walker, and Arkadiusz Sołtysia (yyyy)

Early Bronze Age population substructure in the Khabur basin: preliminary evidence from Tell Brak, Tell Arbid and Tell Barri (Syria)


Bioarchaeological studies of human remains examine past populations through their mortuary, biological, and socio-cultural contexts. Biological distance, or biodistance, analyses use both genetic and phenetic data to investigate biological relatedness. Biodistance studies frequently employ phenotypic characteristics, or the physical expression of genetic traits that can serve as a proxy for aDNA, to understand evolution, migration, kinship and social organisation. We used phenotypic variation in dental morphology to investigate the population history of the Khabur basin in Syria, during an important period of urbanisation in the Early Bronze Age (EBA, circa 3000-2100 BCE) that shaped the political, social, and economic history of ancient Mesopotamia. Non-metric dental traits from three EBA sites, Tell Brak (n=77), Tell Barri (n=16) and Tell Arbid (n=17), were recorded using the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System (ASUDAS). Individuals from the sites were compared using the Gower distance matrix and Mean Measure of Divergence (MMD) to examine the difference between sites as population groups. The results suggest that while sites were ancestrally similar, the observed heterogeneity between sites and was related to the socio-political nature of the community. The greatest variation was observed for the samples from Tell Brak and Tell Barri, the capital and the second-rank administrative centre, respectively. Although Tell Arbid showed less variability, some population segmentation was observed between different burial loci.
Peer Review, Open Access, PDF available
ASUDAS, dental non-metric traits, dental anthropology, bioarchaeology
  • DOI: 10.57937/ap.2023.004
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Editors in Chief:
Dr. Anne Hauzeur
Dr. Kevin Salesse
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium

ISSN 1377-5723 (printed version)

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