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Baltimore, MD (virtual)


Commingled tombs are often overlooked in bioarchaeological studies because of the difficult nature of analysis, despite their prevalence across the ancient world. Tombs Unar 1 (U1) and Unar 2 (U2), located in the United Arab Emirates, date to the Umm an-Nar period (2700-2000 BCE), when people witnessed shifts in mortuary practices likely reflective of broader changes in subsistence and social organization. A collaborative project that trains undergraduates in anthropological research has examined tomb membership for U1 and U2 by estimating MNI and sex. Despite early descriptions of U1 and U2 holding similar numbers of individuals, this project found that MNI was greater in U2 when counting non-duplicating elements from the talus (U1: 88; U2: 228), mandible (U1: 101; U2: 290), and petrous portion of the temporal (U1: 190; U2: 403) whether using landmark or zonation methods. Metric analyses of the humerus found a relatively similar proportion of males and females in each tomb (X2=0.06, df=1, p=0.81). While an assessment of the lateral angle of the internal auditory meatus and the mastoid process found greater numbers of women entombed in both tombs, there was no difference in sex distribution between the tombs (Fisher’s exact: p>0.05 for both techniques). These results suggest that U2 was open to the interment of a larger number of individuals; however, while different sex estimation methods produced similar sex distributions between the tombs, the methods themselves varied considerably in estimating overall frequencies of males and females. Future research using additional sex estimation techniques is warranted.


Biological and Physical Anthropology


MNI and Sex Estimation in Two Umm an-Nar Tombs from the UAE