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Keywords:

  • dental anthropology;
  • trait variation;
  • phenetic affinity;
  • Sudan;
  • Africa

Abstract

This paper reexamines some of the methods and craniometric findings in the classic volume The Ancient Inhabitants of Jebel Moya (Sudan) (1955) by Mukherjee, Rao & Trevor, in light of recent archaeological data and relative to a new dental morphological study. Archaeological evidence characterises these inhabitants as having been heavily influenced by outside sources; yet they managed to establish and maintain their own distinctive culture as seen in the site features and surviving artefact collections. The dental study, modelled after the original craniometric-based investigation and using the same or similar comparative samples, detected complementary indications of outside biological influence. In the study, up to 36 dental traits were recorded in a total of 19 African samples. The most influential traits in driving inter-sample variation were then identified, and phenetic affinities were calculated using the Mahalanobis D2 statistic for non-metric traits. If phenetic similarity provides an estimate of genetic relatedness, these affinities, like the original craniometric findings, suggest that the Jebel Moyans exhibited a mosaic of features that are reminiscent of, yet distinct from, both sub-Saharan and North African peoples. Together, these different lines of evidence correspond to portray the Jebel Moya populace as a uniform, although distinct, biocultural amalgam. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.