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Bioarchaeological Analyses of 3rd Millennium BC High Circular Tower Tombs in Dhofar, Oman

Williams, K.
Gregoricka, Lesley
Saliege, J.-F.
McCorriston, J.
Published in Journal of Oman Studies. 2014, vol. 18, p. 153-173
Abstract Bioarchaeological analyses of human skeletal remains interred in 3rd millennium BC mortuary monuments is new to southern Oman archaeological research. Despite the attention that mortuary monuments in the region have received, the value of the skeletal remains, their archaeological recovery, and analyses of both the burial context and the chemical analyses of the bones have not been appreciated. In part this is an artifact of an outdated system where archaeologists excavate mortuary monuments and then provide the skeletal remains to physical anthropologists for analyses in a lab setting devoid of the archaeological context from which they originated. Often, poorly preserved remains, such as those found in many older limestone tombs throughout Dhofar, are deemed inappropriate for study because of their fragility. We introduce evidence of the value of bioarchaeological research in these challenging environmental settings. Archaeologists who are trained both in archaeological methods and biological anthropology have an advantage when excavating mortuary contexts because of their ability to conduct osteological analyses in situ and record such things as burial placement, degree and cause of disturbance, and potential secondary mortuary rituals that may or may not be related to the initial construction of the monument. Association of funerary goods with specific individuals and the spatiality of males, females, and children within the monument all help to tell the story of the place of these monuments in the lives of those who built the tombs, those who were interred in the tombs, descendants of both, and in some cases, people who lived in the same physical and mortuary landscape generations or millennia later. In this paper we present the bioarchaeological analyses of three tombs from the Dhofar region of southern Oman. What we have learned about mortuary rituals from these tombs is likely only a glimpse of funerary customs of the 3rd millennium BC people in Dhofar, but these results argue strongly for the adoption of modern bioarchaeological techniques in the study of all of ancient Arabia. Elsewhere, this approach has provided immeasurable insight into the ancient world. In southern Arabia, it is time to celebrate and better understand the lives of the people who built the monuments and ancient landscapes that intrigue us to this day.
Keywords MegalithsBronze AgeArabiaOman
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Research group Laboratory of Prehistoric Archeology and Anthropology
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WILLIAMS, K. et al. Bioarchaeological Analyses of 3rd Millennium BC High Circular Tower Tombs in Dhofar, Oman. In: Journal of Oman Studies, 2014, vol. 18, p. 153-173. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:76991

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Deposited on : 2015-11-09

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