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Thesis/Dissertation Seminars

Thesis Defense: Trace Element Analysis of Human Dentition from the Elite Meroitic Cemetery at Sedeinga, Sudan, Nubia

Howard Phillips Hall 409M
May 24, 2018 @ 01:00 PM - 02:00 PM

Announcing the Final Examination of Ms. Tiffany Lee for the degree of Master of Arts in Anthropology

A trace element analysis was performed on an archaeological sample from 13 individuals consisting of 21 first, second, and third permanent molars excavated from the elite Nubian Meroitic Cemetery of Sedeinga, located in northern Sudan. Minimal research has been conducted on the human skeletal remains from this site, and this research is aimed toward adding knowledge of the Nubian culture for the period between the 1st c. AD to the 4th c. AD, particularly focusing on answering the following questions: 1) Was intra- individual variation present in dietary habits or cultural behaviors based on elements found within an individual’s multiple molars after analysis; 2) Was an inter-individual variation apparent, based on developmental age, that indicated a distinction between dietary habits against all individuals; 3) Based on known medicinal and cosmetic use of kohl in neighboring societies, as well as archaeological evidence found at Sedeinga, if individuals will have used kohl based on observed increased levels of lead or antimony?

Elemental analysis was performed using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma- Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). A total of 13 trace elements including Ca44 and P31; minor elements Mg24, S32, C13, and Sr88; metals Fe56, Cu63, Zn66, Sb121, and Pb208; and La139 and U238 were analyzed for each sample with concentration values mapped and analyzed. The data collected during laser ablation was utilized to create two-dimensional detection and concentration maps of each tooth using MATLAB® software. Analysis of concentration values confirmed dietary change from early childhood to late adolescence across the population. Probable use of antimony and lead-based kohl was determined from high concentration values mapped in dentition. Two-dimensional mapping of trace elements within teeth have revealed cultural and dietary changes across the population.

Committee in Charge: Tosha Dupras (Chair), John Schultz, Lana Williams