Population continuity vs. discontinuity revisited: Dental affinities among late Paleolithic through Christian-era Nubians


  • Dr. Joel D. Irish

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-7720
    • Department of Anthropology, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, PO Box 757720, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7720
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The present study revisits a subject that has been a source of long-standing bioarchaeological contention, namely, estimation of Nubian population origins and affinities. Using the Arizona State University dental anthropology system, frequencies of 36 crown, root, and intraoral osseous discrete traits in 12 late Pleistocene through early historic Nubian samples were recorded and analyzed. Specifically, intersample phenetic affinities, and an indication of which traits are most important in driving this variation, were determined through the application of correspondence analysis and the mean measure of divergence distance statistic. The results support previous work by the author and others indicating that population discontinuity, in the form of replacement or significant gene flow into an existing gene pool, occurred sometime after the Pleistocene. This analysis now suggests that the break occurred before the Final Neolithic. Samples from the latter through Christian periods exhibit relative homogeneity, which implies overall post-Pleistocene diachronic and regional population continuity. Yet there are several perceptible trends among these latter samples that: 1) are consistent with documented Nubian population history, 2) enable the testing of several existing peopling hypotheses, and 3) allow the formulation of new hypotheses, including a suggestion of two post-Pleistocene subgroups predicated on an age-based sample dichotomy. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.