Presentation Title

A Tali of Two Tombs: Calculating MNI and Bone Calcination in Commingled Remains from Two Bronze Age Tombs in the UAE

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Lesley A. Gregoricka, Dr. Jaime M. Ullinger

Start Date

23-11-2019 8:00 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 8:45 AM

Location

13

Session

poster 1

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

The Umm an-Nar period (2700-2000 BCE) is known for its dichotomy between the rise in social hierarchy during life and equal treatment in death (Potts, 2012). Mortuary practices of this time period include cremation and commingling of human skeletal remains resulting in high levels of fragmentation. Umm an-Nar tombs Unar 1 (2400-2200 BCE) and Unar 2 (2300-2100 BCE) were part of the Shimal Necropolis in the United Arab Emirates. During this time period, we hypothesized that: (1) population increase would result in a larger number of individuals interred in Unar 2, which was used near the end of the Umm an-Nar period, compared to Unar 1, which was used at the beginning of the period, and (2) these demographic shifts would change funerary practices. To accurately estimate the minimum number of individuals (MNI) in tombs Unar 1 and Unar 2, we used two methods, the landmark method (Mack et al., 2015) and zonation method (Knüsel and Outram, 2004), to assess the number of tali in the tombs. A Munsell Color Chart was used to assess the extent of heat-related changes to bone, which indicates degree of burning, a key component of cremation practices (Munsell, 2009).

Of the two MNI methods, the zonation method yielded the higher MNI values of 88 in Unar 1 and 228 Unar 2. The number of interred individuals more than doubled, which may be related to increasing population size. There was also evidence of a shift in mortuary practices as evidenced by bone being burned at higher temperatures resulting in higher percentages of calcined bone. Unar 1 has 26% of calcined bone, while Unar 2 has 63% of calcined bone (X2= 200.738, df=2, p<0.0001). This change in practice may also reflect increasing population size, as more people needed to be interred into one tomb.

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Nov 23rd, 8:00 AM Nov 23rd, 8:45 AM

A Tali of Two Tombs: Calculating MNI and Bone Calcination in Commingled Remains from Two Bronze Age Tombs in the UAE

13

The Umm an-Nar period (2700-2000 BCE) is known for its dichotomy between the rise in social hierarchy during life and equal treatment in death (Potts, 2012). Mortuary practices of this time period include cremation and commingling of human skeletal remains resulting in high levels of fragmentation. Umm an-Nar tombs Unar 1 (2400-2200 BCE) and Unar 2 (2300-2100 BCE) were part of the Shimal Necropolis in the United Arab Emirates. During this time period, we hypothesized that: (1) population increase would result in a larger number of individuals interred in Unar 2, which was used near the end of the Umm an-Nar period, compared to Unar 1, which was used at the beginning of the period, and (2) these demographic shifts would change funerary practices. To accurately estimate the minimum number of individuals (MNI) in tombs Unar 1 and Unar 2, we used two methods, the landmark method (Mack et al., 2015) and zonation method (Knüsel and Outram, 2004), to assess the number of tali in the tombs. A Munsell Color Chart was used to assess the extent of heat-related changes to bone, which indicates degree of burning, a key component of cremation practices (Munsell, 2009).

Of the two MNI methods, the zonation method yielded the higher MNI values of 88 in Unar 1 and 228 Unar 2. The number of interred individuals more than doubled, which may be related to increasing population size. There was also evidence of a shift in mortuary practices as evidenced by bone being burned at higher temperatures resulting in higher percentages of calcined bone. Unar 1 has 26% of calcined bone, while Unar 2 has 63% of calcined bone (X2= 200.738, df=2, p<0.0001). This change in practice may also reflect increasing population size, as more people needed to be interred into one tomb.