Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Articles in the SAS Newlsetter

Newsletter for the Society of Archaeological Sciences

The latest SAS newsletter is now available (Volume 30, No.4, Winter 2007). There are two articles about ancient Egypt. The newsletter is in PDF format and takes quite a while to load, but it gets there in the end.

The first is an article about Dakhleh Oasis - Fractured Childhood: A Case of Probable Child Abuse from Ancient Egypt by Sandra M. Wheeler, Lana Williams, Patrick Beauchesne, and JE Molto. The article is on pages 6-9.

Much can be learned about cultural attitudes of violence towards children from analyses of skeletal remains and mortuary patterns of communities in which lived and died. A bioarchaeological approach integrating biological, socio-cultural, and physical environments is used in analyzing a child from Kellis, a Roman Period (c. 50-450 AD) cemetery located in Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. The purpose of this study is to highlight a probable case of malintent towards a child in an archaeological context, thus giving the incident considerable time depth, as this may be the earliest documented case of child physical abuse. The child (B519), aged two to three years, exhibits skeletal fracture patterns consistent with chronic abuse, which

may or may not have led to an untimely death. Results from our investigation support this diagnosis. This case presents an opportunity to address questions concerning attitudes towards children, their social experiences, and quality of life during the period of Roman rule in Egypt.

The second is entitled
Metric Sex Estimation in an Ancient Egyptian Skeletal Sample by Michelle H. Raxter

The most reliable technique for estimating the sex of an individual is by identification of morphological characteristics on the pelvis (Phenice, 1969), however, archaeologically recovered skeletal remains are often incomplete or damaged due to decay, weather, as well as animal and human interferences. Development of methods to estimate sex from incomplete skeletal remains is thus necessary. Metric techniques are particularly useful because of the relative ease in application. Human proportions vary systematically between populations (Ruff, 1994; Holliday and Ruff, 1997). These differences can affect metric evaluation of sex (Iscan et al., 1998; King et al., 1998; Gonzalez-Reimers et al., 2000; Mall et al., 2000); therefore the most reliable estimates will be obtained when the population being investigated is as similar as possible in proportions to the population used to create the standards (Holliday and Ruff, 1997).

Metric sex estimation standards have been developed using univariate and discriminant function analysis on long bone measurements from various adult archaeological skeletal samples that include prehistoric Scottish (MacLaughlin and Bruce, 1985), prehistoric Central Californian (Dittrick and Suchey, 1986), prehispanic Canary Islands (Gonzalez-Reimers et al., 2000), prehistoric New Zealand Polynesian (Murphy, 2005), medieval Croatian (Slaus and Tomicic, 2005), and ancient Anatolian (Ozer and Katayama, 2006). To date, the literature contains no metric standards for estimating sex in ancient Egyptians. The goal of the present study is to investigate sexual dimorphism in an adult ancient Egyptian skeletal sample and demonstrate the need for metric sex estimation methods specific to ancient Egyptians.

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