jueves, 30 de abril de 2015

Dental enamel reveals surprising migration patterns in ancient Indus civilizations


Map of the Indus Civilization culture area with locations mentioned in the text.

University of Florida researchers have discovered that ancient peoples in the Indus Valley apparently did not stay put, as was previously thought. Equally surprising is how they found out: by examining 4,000-year-old teeth.

When tooth enamel forms, it incorporates elements from the local environment — the food one eats, the water one drinks, the dust one breathes. When the researchers looked at remains from the ancient city of Harappa, located in what is known today as the Punjab Province of Pakistan, individuals’ early molars told a very different story than their later ones, meaning they hadn’t been born in the city where they were found.

Much of what modern researchers have gleaned about our common ancestors, particularly those from Egypt and Mesopotamia, comes from well-studied tombs and burial sites. Discovering the narrative of peoples from the Greater Indus Valley — which comprises much of modern-day Pakistan and northwest India — is more challenging. The text of the Indus Valley Civilization remains undeciphered, and known and excavated burial sites are rare.

A new study, published in today’s PLOS ONE, illuminates the lives of individuals buried more than 4,000 years ago in those rare grave sites by providing a novel comparison of the dental enamel and chemical analyses of the water, fauna and rocks of the time, using isotope ratios of lead and strontium. [...] news.ufl.edu/