• Population continuity or replacement at ancient Lachish? A dental affinity analysis in the Levant

      Dicke-Toupin, Clarissa R. (2012-05)
      Are material culture changes between late Bronze and early Iron Age inhabitants of Lachish, in modern day Israel, the result of immigrants settling the region, or an in situ evolution of practices by the same indigenous peoples? The research objectives are to: 1) assess dental affinity of an Iron Age Lachish sample relative to its Bronze Age predecessor, and 2) compare data in both groups with European and North African comparative samples to estimate biological affinity within the Mediterranean area. In the process, two competing hypotheses are tested; one postulates continuity and the other population replacement between the Bronze and Iron Age. Using the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System, dental trait frequencies were compared to determine inter-sample phonetic affinities. The results suggest: 1) biological continuity between the Lachish Bronze and Iron Ages, and 2) a marked level of heterogeneity with closer affinity to some Egyptian and Phoenician groups within the Mediterranean Diaspora. These findings lend support to one of many competing theories identifying the ancient Lachish peoples, while providing an increased understanding of the Bronze and Iron Age transition in the Levant, which is often considered one of the most intriguing and volatile periods in the Near East.