Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Evaluating migratory aspects of adults from Kellis 2 cemetery, Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt through oxygen isotope analysis to address social organization and disease stigma
by Groff, Amanda T., Ph.D., University of Florida, 2015, 214; 10298972
Abstract (Summary)

The principal goal of this research is to evaluate ancient mobility, social organization, and disease stigma in ancient Egypt focused on individuals from Kellis 2, a Romano-Christian period (ca. 50CE - 450CE) cemetery in the Dakhleh Oasis. This study involves the analysis of ōō18 O ratios from tooth enamel and bone apatite from adults excavated from the Kellis 2 cemetery to assess migration. A bioarchaeological approach emphasizing the incorporation of data from archaeological, environmental, and ancient documentary sources is stressed throughout this study. Specifically, scientific data are integrated with ancient material sources which document the mobility aspects of males and females in Egyptian society during the Romano-Christian period. Military travel, regional work, marriage locality, and disease have all been offered as possible motivations for migration between the Dakhleh Oasis and the Nile Valley. Thus, ō18O analysis is utilized as a means of providing information on geographic origin and lifetime mobility of individuals with respect to ancient material sources concerning social status, disease stigma, and economics.

Tooth enamel and bone apatite of 81 adult individuals buried in the Kellis 2 cemetery were analyzed for oxygen isotope enrichment and compared against the oxygen isotope values from individuals buried in various sites along the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. This comparison facilitates correlations to be made with letters and census data found on ancient papyri and ostraka, and provides inferences for birth place and possible migration. Previous research indicated that females were either marrying into families who lived in the Dakhleh Oasis or were slaves; however, this study has found the opposite. Male oxygen isotope results from this study serve to support previously held notions and documentation describing males as migrating more frequently for work-related activities. Additionally, the results from current and previous ō 18O analyses are used as spatial entities capable of highlighting burial patterns, cemetery organization, and individual identities within the Kellis 2 cemetery. The isotope data presented in this dissertation aims to clarify historical events and challenges prevailing hypotheses on migration and disease stigma concerning leprosy; perhaps redefining our understanding of mobility during the Romano-Christian period.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Krigbaum, John
School: University of Florida
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Physical anthropology
Keywords: Bioarchaeology, Egypt, Leprosy, Migration, Oxygen isotope
Publication Number: 10298972
ISBN: 978-1-369-41995-5
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