Activity patterns in New Kingdom Nubia: An examination of entheseal remodeling and osteoarthritis at Tombos



The effects of Egyptian imperial expansion into Nubia during the New Kingdom Period (1,550–1,069 BC) have been debated. Here, the impacts of the Egyptian Empire are investigated through an examination of osteological indicators of activity at the archaeological site of Tombos. Entheseal changes to fibrocartilaginous attachment sites and osteoarthritis are examined to infer what types of physical activities this colonial town was engaging in. Many of the skeletal remains at Tombos were comingled due to looting in antiquity; undisturbed burials are presented as a subsample of the population (n = 28) in which age, sex, and body size can be considered. The total sample (n = 85) is then analyzed to better understand overall levels of activity. A number of Nile River Valley bioarchaeological samples are used as points of comparison to the Tombos population. Results indicate that the inhabitants of Tombos had relatively low entheseal remodeling scores; this is highlighted when Tombos is juxtaposed with comparative samples, particularly in men. Furthermore, osteoarthritis, as assessed by eburnation, was also markedly infrequent at Tombos. Collectively, these results indicate a relatively low level of activity and support the hypothesis that Tombos may have served as an administrative center. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.