Moscow University

Cranial non-metric traits in Gonur-Depe skeletal population: new data

Kufterin V.V.

N.N. Miklukho-Maklay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninski pr., 32a, Moscow, 119991, Russia

Kufterin Vladimir V., PhD.; ORCID ID: 0000-0002-7171-8998;


The article outlines the result of non-metric traits analysis of the cranial sample from Gonur-Depe – a Bronze Age proto-urban center in Southern Turkmenistan (2300–1500 BC, Bactria-Margiana archaeological complex, BMAC). Materials and methods. The discussed sample consists of 46 skulls, excavated at 2005–2015. It was analyzed by the cranioscopic program, which includes 36 non-metric traits. Intergroup analysis of Gonur crania was made using 14 non-metric traits. As a comparative material, 14 samples, representing both “steppe” groups and the archaeological population of various centers of the Ancient Eastern civilization were used. The analysis of intergroup variability of non-metric traits was carried out in several stages. At the first stage, arcsin-transformed trait frequencies were clustered using Ward’s method. In the second stage, a correspondence analysis was used. At the third stage, we calculated Smith’s mean measure of divergence biodistances, which were subjected to the multidimensional scaling procedure. Statistical procedures were performed using Statistica 12.0 and PHEN 3.0 packages. Results. Cluster analysis of arcsin-transformed frequencies of cranial non-metric traits showed a clear presence of two subclusters. The first one combines the Gonur sample with the “steppe” groups of the Dnieper region and the pooled Bronze Age samples from Armenia. The second one combines other groups. It is noteworthy that the first subcluster combines mainly “Indo-European” or “Proto-Indo-European” samples. The second (except for the “Andronovo” subcluster) includes samples from the territory of the Middle East and the Indus Valley (mostly non-Indo-European origin). Correspondence analysis results confirm the results of cluster analysis. Multidimensional scaling of Smith’s mean measure of divergence (MMD) distances, at the same time, demonstrates a situation in many respects different from that obtained as a result of previous procedures. However, consideration of the standardized MMD values (adjusted for mean standard deviations) demonstrates the same “Indo-European” trend in the phenetic profile of the inhabitants of the Ancient Margiana. Discussion. Cranial non-metric data demonstrate the proximity of Gonur materials to the Yamnaya and Catacomb cultures of the Dnieper region. This fact is interpreted not from the standpoint of genetic mixing of the representatives of the “steppe” populations with the BMAC ones, but as evidence of the presence of a common ancient “Proto-Indo-European” genetic stratum. Moreover, there are no analogies (at least until the middle of the 2nd mill. BC) based on craniometric data, between agricultural groups and “steppe” populations.


craniology; cranial non-metric traits; Gonur-Depe; Turkmenistan; Bronze Age

DOI: 10.32521/2074-8132.2019.2.061-071

Цит.: Kufterin V.V. Cranial non-metric traits in Gonur-Depe skeletal population: new data // Moscow University Anthropology Bulletin (Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Seria XXIII. Antropologia), 2019; 2/2019; с. 61-71

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