Who were the ancient Egyptians? Dental affinities among Neolithic through postdynastic peoples


  • Joel D. Irish

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-7720
    • Department of Anthropology, PO Box 757720, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-7720
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Qualitative and quantitative methods are employed to describe and compare up to 36 dental morphological variants in 15 Neolithic through Roman-period Egyptian samples. Trait frequencies are determined, and phenetic affinities are calculated using the mean measure of divergence and Mahalanobis D2 statistics for discrete traits; the most important traits in generating this intersample variation are identified with correspondence analysis. Assuming that the samples are representative of the populations from which they derive, and that phenetic similarity provides an estimate of genetic relatedness, these affinities are suggestive of overall population continuity. That is, other than a few outliers exhibiting extreme frequencies of nine influential traits, the dental samples appear to be largely homogenous and can be characterized as having morphologically simple, mass-reduced teeth. These findings are contrasted with those resulting from previous skeletal and other studies, and are used to appraise the viability of five Egyptian peopling scenarios. Specifically, affinities among the 15 time-successive samples suggest that: 1) there may be a connection between Neolithic and subsequent predynastic Egyptians, 2) predynastic Badarian and Naqada peoples may be closely related, 3) the dynastic period is likely an indigenous continuation of the Naqada culture, 4) there is support for overall biological uniformity through the dynastic period, and 5) this uniformity may continue into postdynastic times. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.