Living on the Border: Health and Identity during the Colonial Egyptian New Kingdom Period in Nubia.

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Archaeological studies of culture contact are hampered by a tendency to project the exploitive relations between cores and peripheries so characteristic of the modern world back into the past. We outline in this essay a few basic principles by means of which the diverse conditions of prehistoric intersocietal interaction and their behavioral consequences might be apprehended. This formulation posits that social factions use material, political, and ideological resources to secure privileged control over labor, thereby enhancing their power and prestige. Because no culture is isolated from significant contacts with others, both local and extralocal resources are employed in factional contests. Any development that has an impact on how foreign and indigenous assets are distributed within and between cultures will, therefore, have important repercussions for economic, sociopolitical, and ideological arrangements and changes at local and macroregional scales. The essay concludes with a consideration of some points along the continuum of interaction structures, processes, and cultural consequences. © 1998 by the Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University. All rights reserved.
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Traditionally, archaeologists have divided time and materials into precolonial and colonial periods, categories that carry de facto connotations about those who shape history, and those who are shaped by it (see Hart et al., this volume; Lightfoot 1995; Rubertone 1996, 2000). Interpretations created by such a schema often situate Indigenous people as the creators of their history before the arrival of Europeans, but the victims of history after contact. This disconnect in modern scholarship continues the work of colonization, depicting the arrival of Europeans as the defining moment in Indigenous lives. Archaeology is the discipline perhaps best equipped to decolonize historical narratives of Indigenous peoples. Elizabeth Brumfiel (2003, 2006) urged archaeologists to take long-term history seriously in order to understand the subjective variables of identity and agency within the contextual and structural variables of history, politics, and economy. As the contributors to this volume show (see also Scheiber and Mitchell 2010), scholars of colonial period interactions are also taking up the call of long-term historical understanding. These scholars recognize that Indigenous histories and actions help to structure the interactions between Indigenous populations and colonizers, and are part of the context in which these interactions occur. In this chapter I use a long-term history perspective as I reimagine colonial period interactions at the Maya community of Progresso Lagoon, in northern Belize. This work builds on efforts that use Spanish documents to reconstruct colonial interactions, such as Grant D. Jones's (1989, 1998) efforts to piece together the sociopolitical landscape of sixteenth-to-seventeenthcentury conflicts between Maya and Spanish polities of the Belize frontier. Archaeological investigations, however, allow us to connect these conflicts to a long and continuous Indigenous Maya history. My work on the west shore of Progresso Lagoon suggests that the fifteenth to seventeenth century represented a significant period of transition for Maya residents. Roughly a century before the arrival of Spaniards in the region, the Progresso Lagoon community experienced economic and political instability, and a reorganization of the social order. When the Spanish attempted colonization of the region in 1544, the Maya of Progresso Lagoon were forced into new interactions with Spanish colonists, cooperative Maya missions, and unconquered Maya groups. In this chapter I will show that these colonial interactions cannot be understood outside of the context of Progresso Lagoon's long-term history. Changes to everyday life in the fifteenth century influenced how Maya residents of Progresso Lagoon shaped their interactions with Spanish and Maya neighbors. The first part of the chapter situates the Progresso Lagoon community within the colonial period history of the Belize region, as detailed in the ethnohistoric work of Grant D. Jones (1989, 1998, 2005). Progresso Lagoon's Maya residents interacted with both Spanish and Maya neighbors during this time and alternated between resistance and accommodation to Spanish authorities. What motivated these interactions? How do they fit within the long-term history of this community? In the second part of the chapter, I address these questions with archaeological data, tracing the community's decisions back to Indigenous political and economic changes in the mid-fifteenth century. The Progresso Lagoon community was significantly affected by the collapse of the Postclassic Maya capital of Mayapán, between CE 1441 and 1461. During the mid-fifteenth century, concurrent with the collapse of Mayapán, the main settlement at Progresso Lagoon moved from the island of Caye Coco to the west shore of the lagoon. There, households experienced higher levels of political instability and economic uncertainty, and community leaders struggled to maintain prestige in the post-Mayapán era (Oland 2009). I conclude with examples of how fifteenth-century changes at Progresso Lagoon affected colonial period events. Spanish colonization occurred within the restructuring of the community's political, economic, and social institutions, and interactions of the Progresso Lagoon community with both Spanish and Maya groups were deeply tied to this reorganization. Archaeological data show how Progresso Lagoon's leaders manipulated their relationships with the Spaniards to regain prestige lost when Mayapán collapsed. The approach taken in this chapter helps to decolonize the narrative of the conquest of the Maya, because it situates colonial events within a long-term Indigenous and local history.1 Colonial events were shaped as much by local Maya history as by Spanish actions. Instead of imagining the Maya as thrust into the world of the colonial Spaniards (and forced to react), we might instead imagine the Spaniards as lost among the colonial Maya, interjected into a deep Maya timeline that they did not understand and could not control. This subtle theoretical shift, in which we reject precolonial and colonial period categories, changes the way we interpret archaeological data and historically known colonial events.
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As a successful technique for identifying residential mobility in other areas, this study investigates the feasibility of using (87) Sr/(86) Sr analysis to track the movements of the ancient peoples of Egypt and Nubia in the Nile Valley, who interacted via trade, warfare, and political occupations over millennia. Dental enamel from faunal remains is used to examine variability in strontium sources in seven regional sites; human enamel samples are analyzed from eight Nile Valley sites in order to trace human movements. The faunal samples show a wide range of (87) Sr/(86) Sr values demonstrating that some animals were raised in a variety of locales. The results of the human samples reveal overlap in (87) Sr/(86) Sr values between Egyptian and Nubian sites; however, Egyptian (87) Sr/(86) Sr values (mean/median [0.70777], sd [0.00027]) are statistically higher than the Nubian (87) Sr/(86) Sr values (mean [0.70762], median [0.70757], sd [0.00036], suggesting that it is possible to identify if immigrant Egyptians were present at Nubian sites. Samples examined from the site of Tombos provide important information regarding the sociopolitical activities during the New Kingdom and Napatan periods. Based on a newly established local (87) Sr/(86) Sr range, human values, and bioarchaeological evidence, this study confirms the preliminary idea that immigrants, likely from Egypt, were present during the Egyptian New Kingdom occupation of Nubia. In the subsequent Napatan period when Nubia ruled Egypt as the 25th Dynasty, (87) Sr/(86) Sr values are statistically different from the New Kingdom component and indicate that only locals were present at Tombos during this developmental time. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
World system theory is commonly invoked by archaeologists to explain the organization and long-term effects of cultural contact between complex societies and less developed neighboring polities. It is argued here that world system theory has been overused and in many cases inappropriately applied. The assumptions of the world system model are presented and critiqued. An alternative distance-parity interaction model is presented to specify the conditions under which longdistance interregional contact will be characterized by an essential equivalence in power relations rather than the hegemonic control by the core area as postulated in the world system model. The archaeological correlates of the two models are presented and evaluated, using as a test case the earliest known colonial system, established by the city-states of Uruk Mesopotamia in surrounding regions during the fourth millennium B.C. © 1998 by the Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University. All rights reserved.
The Quincentenary dialogue about the encounter of Europe and America five hundred years ago provided a focus for the convergence of postcolonial nationalist ideology in the Caribbean and postmodernist thought (postprocessualism) in historical archaeology. As a result, historical archaeologists currently studying culture contact and change in the region, while not openly rejecting earlier models of acculturation and culture contact, are nevertheless turning away from those that stress unidirectional change as the primary agent in contact situations, and particularly those that emphasize the imposition of a dominant European society on a passive, non-European society. Following from this, many post-Quincentenary archaeological studies of culture contact and change in Spanish America have turned to ethnogenetic models, that is, the emergence of a new cultural form with multiple origins and multiple active agents. © 1998 by the Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University. All rights reserved.
Through the concept of entanglement, archaeological indications of cultural identity and skeletal evidence of biological and geographic interaction are used to explore the development of the Nubian polity who ruled as the 25th Dynasty of Egypt (Napatan period, ca. 750–656 B.C.E.). In this article, we examine the ways in which cultural and biological linkages affect the political, social, and cultural trajectories of the political entities in the ancient Nile Valley. Early studies of political developments in this region have often focused on Egypt, ignoring the aspects of power formation that may have developed independently and the long tradition of established local institutions in Nubia. The present research uses evidence from the site of Tombos, located in Upper Nubia, to investigate the processes of identity formation and population composition during the Egyptian colonial occupation and the subsequent rise of the Nubian Napatan polity. We address the impact of Egyptian and Nubian immigrants on the political developments, finding strongest support for the influence of Nubian-Egyptian communities established in colonial times on the character of the Napatan polity. [cultural entanglement, Egypt, 25th Dynasty, Tombos, mortuary practices, state formation].
Mission Cemeteries, Mission Peoplesoffers clear, accessible explanations of complex methods for observing evolutionary effects in populations. Christopher Stojanowski's intimate knowledge of the historical, archaeological, and skeletal data illuminates the existing narrative of diet, disease, and demography in Spanish Florida and demonstrates how the intracemetery analyses he employs can provide likely explanations for issues where the historical information is either silent or ambiguous. Stojanowski forgoes the traditional broad analysis of Native American populations and instead looks at the physical person who lived in the historic Southeast. What did that person eat? Did he suffer from chronic diseases? With whom did she go to a Spanish church? Where was she buried in death? The answers to these questions allow us to infer much about the lives of mission peoples.
Analysis of human skeletal remains helps elucidate the relationships between and among groups living along the ancient Chinese northern frontier, as well as the risks of interpersonal violence suffered by members of nomadic pastoral groups. We posit that a host of complex interactions occurred as nomads migrated into and out of contested zones near the borders of Chinese expansion, with tensions both between the nomads and the Chinese and among the nomadic tribes themselves. Patterns of trauma found on human remains from four sites give valuable evidence of the extent and types of injuries experienced, along with their impact on health in different regions of the northern frontier. Particular emphasis is given to the Jinggouzi (井沟子) burial sample, comprising the remains of pastoralists who had recently migrated to what is now Inner Mongolia during the Late Bronze Age. By comparing trauma profiles of Jinggouzi individuals with trauma profiles of samples from other northern frontier regions (Manchuria and Xinjiang), we gain new insights into the nature of conflict and other forms of interregional interaction among the nomadic societies of the area, as well as between those societies and imperial China.
This cutting-edge synthesis of the archaeology of Nubia and Sudan from prehistory to the nineteenth century AD is the first major work on this area for over three decades. Drawing on results of the latest research and developing new interpretive frameworks, the area which has produced the most spectacular archaeology in sub-Saharan Africa is examined here by an author with extensive experience in this field. The geographical range of the book extends through the Nubian north, the Middle Nile Basin, and includes what has become the modern Sudan. Using period-based chapters, the region's long-term history is traced and a potential for a more broadly framed and inclusive 'historical archaeology' of Sudan's more recent past is explored. This text breaks new ground in its move beyond the Egyptocentric and more traditional culture-histories of Nubia, often isolated in Africanist research, and it relocates the early civilizations and their archaeology within their Sudanic Africa context. This is a captivating study of the area's history, and will inform and enthral all students and researchers of Archaeology and Egyptology.
Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains provides an integrated and comprehensive treatment of pathological conditions that affect the human skeleton. There is much that ancient skeletal remains can reveal to the modern orthopaedist, pathologist, forensic anthropologist, and radiologist about the skeletal manifestations of diseases that are rarely encountered in modern medical practice. Beautifully illustrated with over 1,100 photographs and drawings, this book provides essential text and materials on bone pathology, which will improve the diagnostic ability of those interested in human dry bone pathology. It also provides time depth to our understanding of the effect of disease on past human populations.
Archaeological analysis of responses by indigenous peoples in temperate Europe to conquest and colonization by Rome provides instructive cases that have broad comparative applicability. The rich database and the longtime perspective make this context particularly useful for comparison with other instances of contact and change in imperial situations, such as Spanish conquest and colonization in the New World. This essay focuses on expression of identity among indigenous peoples of Gaul and Germany before and after the Roman conquest. It examines evidence from sanctuary sites and burials as especially informative. The peoples who inhabited the conquered lands actively used their material culture in recreating their identities under Roman domination. Close analysis of the archaeological evidence allows us to interpret the experience of these groups and thus gain a different perspective from that offered by the Roman texts. © 1998 by the Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University. All rights reserved.
This study examines the consequences of the sociopolitical transition in the Nile Valley from New Kingdom Egyptian control (18–20th Dynasties of Egypt, ∼1550–1069 BC) to Napatan Nubian rule (25th Dynasty of Egypt, ∼750–660 BC) through the analysis of skeletal remains and mortuary ritual at the site of Tombos in Upper Nubia (modern Sudan). Demographic variables as well as indicators of nutritional deficiency and infectious disease (linear enamel hypoplasia, cribra orbitalia, osteoperiostitis, and femur length) are used to assess the effects of governmental changes on people living in Nubia during these periods. It is evident from the skeletal sample that the Egyptian–Nubian community at Tombos continued to thrive after the fall of the New Kingdom Egyptian empire. Drastic differences in linear enamel hypoplasia and osteoperiostitis are not apparent in the New Kingdom and Napatan components at Tombos. However, an increased level of remodeled cribra orbitalia along with greater average femur length in the Napatan female cohort indicates better recovery from times of nutritional and infectious conditions in comparison with the New Kingdom individuals. Variable circumstances experienced by New Kingdom Egyptian colonists at Tombos, as well as genetic differences, may account for the observed frequencies of these paleopathological indicators.
For the same reasons that explorers of the early twentieth century strove to reach the poles, and their modern counterparts journey to outer space, most people want to visualize the contours of the human experience - the peaks of adaptive success that led to the expansion of civilization, and the troughs in which human presence ebbed. The Backbone of History defines the emerging field of macrobioarchaeology by gathering skeletal evidence on seven basic indicators of health to assess chronic conditions that affected individuals who lived in the Western Hemisphere from 5000 BC to the late nineteenth century. Signs of biological stress in childhood and of degeneration in joints and in teeth increased in the several millennia before the arrival of Columbus as populations moved into less healthy ecological environments. Thus, pre-Colombian Native Americans were among the healthiest and the least healthy groups to live in the Western Hemisphere before the twentieth century.
This study examines evidence for dental disease (caries, abscesses, antemortem tooth loss and severity of dental wear) in Nubian and Egyptian groups living in the Nile Valley during the New Kingdom. Specific attention is given to individuals buried at the site of Tombos, a cemetery in Nubia used during the Egyptian colonial occupation. In addition, three Nubian and two Egyptian samples are included for comparative purposes. While some similarities in condition frequencies between Tombos and the comparative groups are apparent, especially in the rates of caries and abscesses, significant differences in antemortem tooth loss and severity of tooth wear point to variation in these Nile Valley samples. These differences are especially evident for males. Higher rates of these conditions at Tombos may be attributed to the socio-political and cultural changes taking place during this time of colonial occupation. Changes in foodways and occupational environments may have resulted in stress, as demonstrated by these dental conditions experienced by the Tombos people throughout this transitional period. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Injuries, whether accidental or intentional, have incapacitated humans and their primordial ancestors throughout time, although the injury mechanisms have become increasingly more technologically sophisticated. Interpretation of injury aetiology among past peoples is challenging, and often impossible, however, clinical research from developing countries provides a useful analogy with which to evaluate trauma or health patterns of an ancient society. This paper presents a systematic analysis of cranial and postcranial skeletal trauma among 223 adults who were excavated by George Reisner in 1923 from the city of Kerma (1750–1550 BC), Egypt's ancient nemesis in the struggle for control of the Nile River trade route. A total of 156 injuries (fractures, dislocations and muscle pulls among the skull, long bones, extremities and torso) were observed among 88 individuals, 48 of whom had one injury only. The skull was the most frequently traumatized element (11.2%) followed by the ulna (8.3%); 2.4% (48/2029) long bones were fractured.
Although archaeological evidence may express the results of several seasons of activity, the human skeleton, when correlated with archaeological and ethnographic data, provides information concerning daily activities performed throughout an individual's lifetime. Studies in occupational and sports medicine, along with electromyographic analysis of movement, have shown that different activities place different amounts of stress on human bone. In the present study, analysis of upper extremity musculoskeletal stress markers (MSM) has been used to clarify habitual activity patterns of two ancient Thule Eskimo groups from northwest Hudson Bay, Canada. Distinct pattern differences in muscle use occurred between Thule adult males and females and suggest possible gender-specific activity patterns that are not always discernible from the archaeological record alone. Temporal applications of the MSM data for Early and Late Period Thule support McCartney's theory of a substantial change in subsistence strategies through time, particularly among the adult males.
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 commingled 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.
The value of strontium isotope analysis in identifying immigrants at numerous archaeological sites and regional areas has been demonstrated by several researchers, usually by comparing 87Sr/86Sr values of human tooth enamel and/or bone with the local strontium isotope signature determined by faunal and environmental samples. This paper examines the feasibility of using 87Sr/86Sr ratios to investigate residential mobility in the Nile Valley region, specifically at the New Kingdom period (∼1050–1400 BC) archaeological site of Tombos (ancient Nubia). Archaeological and textual information regarding this period indicates that immigrant Egyptians and local native Nubians were likely interacting at this site during a period of Egyptian colonial occupation. The results of this study suggest that non-local individuals may be distinguished from locals using 87Sr/86Sr values and that colonial agents in the Tombos population were probably both local native Nubians and immigrants.
Porosities in the outer table of the cranial vault (porotic hyperostosis) and orbital roof (cribra orbitalia) are among the most frequent pathological lesions seen in ancient human skeletal collections. Since the 1950s, chronic iron-deficiency anemia has been widely accepted as the probable cause of both conditions. Based on this proposed etiology, bioarchaeologists use the prevalence of these conditions to infer living conditions conducive to dietary iron deficiency, iron malabsorption, and iron loss from both diarrheal disease and intestinal parasites in earlier human populations. This iron-deficiency-anemia hypothesis is inconsistent with recent hematological research that shows iron deficiency per se cannot sustain the massive red blood cell production that causes the marrow expansion responsible for these lesions. Several lines of evidence suggest that the accelerated loss and compensatory over-production of red blood cells seen in hemolytic and megaloblastic anemias is the most likely proximate cause of porotic hyperostosis. Although cranial vault and orbital roof porosities are sometimes conflated under the term porotic hyperostosis, paleopathological and clinical evidence suggests they often have different etiologies. Reconsidering the etiology of these skeletal conditions has important implications for current interpretations of malnutrition and infectious disease in earlier human populations.
As circumstances of conquest change, leaders of empires must adapt their colonial strategies in order to be successful. One example of such modification in approach is the shift from Middle Kingdom to New Kingdom Egyptian colonial activities in Nubia. During the Middle Kingdom (2050-1650 BC) Egypt used aggressive military campaigns to subdue the strong Nubian polity at Kerma, resulting in the construction of fortresses and many victory stelae. In the subsequent New Kingdom period (1550-1050 BC) during which the Egyptian administration succeeded in occupying nearly all of Nubia, changes were necessary in conquest strategies. Diplomacy and cooperation may have replaced military action as mechanisms of control. This article investigates changes in imperial policy through the examination of traumatic injuries in human skeletal remains. Patterns of injuries in a sample from the site of Tombos, an Egyptian colonial cemetery in Nubia dating to the New Kingdom period, are compared with data on the patterns of injuries from Kerma, a cemetery dating to the Middle Kingdom period, published by Judd (2004). Analysis indicates a decrease in the level of traumatic injuries from Kerma to Tombos supporting the idea that through time the Egyptian administration modified their colonial strategy toward more nonviolent means. This article presents data on differences in the patterns of injury at Tombos and Kerma and explores possible explanations for this variation.
Archaeological Mission of the University of Geneva at Kerma (Sudan): Report on the 1992-1993 Campaign
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Troubled Times: Violence and Warfare in the Past
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The Archaeology of Disease
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The Archaeological Analysis of Inscribed Egyptian Funerary Cones
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Imperial Agendas and Local Agency: Wari Colonial Strategies
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Nonspecific Infection in Paleopathology: Interpreting Periosteal Reactions
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