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Biological Kinship Variation at Campovalano and Alfedena, Iron Age, Central Italy

Lecture | October 18 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)


Evan Muzzall, University of California, Berkeley D-Lab

Archaeological Research Facility


Biological distance analysis (“biodistance”) is a powerful tool in the bioarchaeologist’s toolkit. Although burial organization does not mirror social organization, it can help us better understand how past humans structured death and in part society via systematic patterns in burial location. This presentation discusses biodistance analyses of cranial and dental metric and dental morphological crown and root trait data for examination of temporal and spatial biological kinship variation at Campovalano and Alfedena. These two neighboring necropoles were used in Iron Age Central Italy (first millennium BC), a time period of increasing social differentiation that preceded a long warring states period and the founding of Augustinian Rome. Six temporal and spatial comparative samples are derived from these two monumental cemeteries.

General agreement between the three datatypes reveals some important consistencies. Results of univariate analyses of variance, multidimensional scaling, and neighbor-joining clustering indicate remarkable temporal biological continuity at Campovalano through time, but stark differentiation compared to Alfedena in space despite their close proximity. Results of a novel biodistance approach that contrasts biological and burial distances (measured using digital cemetery maps) via Mantel tests suggest that female tooth row biological distances slightly correlate with burial distances at Campovalano, but that male face and cranial base biodistances faintly correlate with burial distances at Alfedena Campo Consolino, the ritual core of the broader Alfedena burial ground. Logistic regression and analysis of covariance models of two teeth identified by the multidimensional scaling further support these conclusions. Discussion focuses on the antiquated, fuzzy dichotomous descriptors of patrilocal/matrilocal residence rules, trait heritability, the utility of dental metric data, and small and imbalanced samples.


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