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Keywords:

  • body shape;
  • climatic adaptation;
  • late Pleistocene

ABSTRACT

The Lower Nubian Epipaleolithic site of Jebel Sahaba (Sudan) was discovered in 1962. From 1962 to 1966, a total of 58 intentionally buried skeletons were uncovered at the site. Diagnostic microliths indicative of the Qadan industry as well as the site's geology suggest an age of 14–12 ka for these burials. In this study, the body proportions of the Jebel Sahaba sample are compared with those of a large (max N = 731) sample of recent human skeletons from Europe, Africa and circumpolar North America, as well as to terminal Pleistocene ‘Iberomaurusian’ skeletons from the Algerian sites of Afalou-Bou-Rhummel and the later Capsian-associated Ain Dokhara specimen, as well as Natufian skeletons from the southern Levantine site of El Wad.

Bivariate analyses distinguish Jebel Sahaba from European and circumpolar samples, but do not tend to segregate them from recent North or sub-Saharan African samples. Multivariate analyses (principal components analysis, principal coordinates analysis with minimum spanning tree and neighbour-joining cluster analyses) indicate that the body shape of the Jebel Sahaba humans is most similar to that of recent sub-Saharan Africans and different from that of either the Levantine Natufians or the northwest African ‘Iberomaurusian’ samples. Importantly, these results corroborate those of both Irish and Franciscus, who, using dental, oral and nasal morphology, found that Jebel Sahaba was most similar to recent sub-Saharan Africans and morphologically distinct from their penecontemporaries in other parts of North Africa or the groups that succeed them in Nubia. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.