Abstract

Human skeletal remains from a burial site in southern India excavated in the 1960s by the Department of Archaeology and Museums of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, have been analyzed. The burials were recovered from three megalithic graves containing iron weapons and horse trappings, pottery and terracotta figurines, stone blades, pieces of copper, and faunal remains of domesticated species. These assemblages are hallmarks of the southern Indian Iron Age (Megalithic period) of the last three centuries B.C. Laboratory examination of the human skeletal and dental remains provide new information concerning the phenotypic heterogeneity of Iron Age populations, their physical changes in stature and tooth size, reduction of muscular-skeletal robusticity and sexual dimorphism, and other biological features reflecting evolutionary adaptations from an ancestral hunting-foraging lifeway to settlement in sedentary villages. The data from the study of the skeletal-dental biology of the inhabitants of Pochampad offer new insights into the health status and profiles of growth and development of these and other Iron Age populations in this part of the world. It is concluded that there was considerable phenotypic heterogeneity among these Iron Age communities of southern India and Sri Lanka, and that there was a continuity of populations over time rather than any abrupt demographic displacement of earlier Neolithic populations by invasions of some foreign, early iron-using peoples. Similarly, the biological data suggest that there was continuity of populations and gradual emergence of these last representatives of South Asian prehistory with their Early Historic period successors.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-8283
Print ISSN
0066-8435
Pages
pp. 103-128
Launched on MUSE
2002-11-19
Open Access
No
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