MICHELE R. BUZON
Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University
I am a bioarchaeologist in the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University.
My research focus is excavating and analyzing human skeletal remains from archaeological sites in order to address questions related to the biocultural effects of sociopolitical change in the ancient Nile Valley.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MY CURRENT RESEARCH
If you would like to learn more about Tombos, please check out the website!
My research has focused on investigating these issues at the site of Tombos. I have explored the biological and cultural consequences of contact between the ancient Nubian and Egyptian populations during the colonial New Kingdom period at Tombos, located in northern Sudan. In collaboration with Stuart Tyson Smith, we have recovered over 200 individuals from the Tombos site dating to this period.
This survey of predominantly unpublished contemporaneous populations from a variety of areas in the Nile Valley provided a broad regional basis for comparison with Tombos and offered an opportunity to learn more about an important, but little-studied segment of people, the non-elite, who lived during the New Kingdom. I argue that based on the heterogeneous cranial morphology and varied ethnic identities portrayed through archaeological indications of burial ritual, it is clear Tombos was comprised of a biologically and ethnically mixed group of people who used cultural symbols in advantageous ways. My examination also suggests that people at Tombos appear to have been affected by many of the same stressors as the comparative populations, indicating that resources obtained from the connection with the Egyptian colonial network did not protect them from nutritional and disease stress. The low level of injuries associated with interpersonal violence at Tombos may reflect a change in Egyptian colonial strategies, which appears to shift from military action to more diplomatic methods.
Fieldwork at Tombos focused on the Third Intermediate and Napatan period tombs in 2010 and 2011 uncovered more than 100 individuals. Analysis of burials indicates continued use of Egyptian and Nubian features, with the presence of Nubian-style tumulus graves and Egyptian-style pyramid tombs. Analysis of the artifacts and human remains is ongoing.
In collaboration with Antonio Simonetti and Gabriel Bowen I have investigated migration at Tombos and in the Nile Valley region using strontium and oxygen isotope analysis. While complicating factors affect both methods, the resulting data indicate the usefulness of these techniques and the presence of first generation immigrants at New Kingdom Tombos and a mostly local population at Napatan Tombos.
Excavation in 2013 revealed numerous additional New Kingdom pyramid tombs that appear to be elite in status. Continuing in 2015-2017, we are focusing our work on these elite areas with the goal of characterizing the elite component at Tombos.
LAB & STUDENTS
PURDUE UNIVERSITY - STONE HALL B-11
The Bioarchaeology Laboratory at Purdue University houses the human skeletal remains from the site of Tombos (on renewing loan from the National Corporation of Antiquities and Musems of Sudan). Ongoing research in the lab has involved undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral and visiting scholars on a variety of osteological and paleopathological topics.
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Sarah is researching the daily activities of the people who lived in Croatia during the transition from the late medieval period to the early modern period, when the Ottoman Empire invaded.
Kaitlyn is interested in population demographics and disease patterns in Egypt and the Near East.
Katie's research utilizes the life course approach to examine the impact of Egyptian New Kingdom (c. 1070 to 1400 BC) colonial power on individuals in Nile Valley.
Jeremy is interested in the mortuary practices of Iron Age Nomadic pastoralist populations from the Eurasia steppe. He utilizes dental texture analysis to understand dietary patterns of populations from Iron Age Mongolia. Also, he is interested in the interactions between nomadic pastoralists and Chinese populations.
Alex investigated dental disease in the Tombos Napatan sample, featured in the Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research.
Blair's MS thesis investigated the changes in diet associated with the Akkadian imperial conquest of Kish (2600-2150 BC), examining differences by sex and status.
Emilie researched stature and cranial traits in the Tombos Napatan sample, featured in the Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research.
Dr. Gibbon conducted postdoctoral research involving the morphometric analysis of the appendicular skeleton in the human material from Tombos.
Sarah's MS thesis investigated osteological indicators of activity patterns at the site of Tombos in ancient Nubia by examing the biocultural effects of culture contact. Her PhD research expanded on this topic and focused on changes in daily activities (physical and dietary) as a result of the Egyptian Empire in Nubia.
Katelyn investigated senescence in the New Kingdom and Napatan populations from Tombos, featured in the Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research.
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National Geographic Channel
Purdue Alumnus Magazine
Purdue Women Promotion
National Geological Radio
Click below to hear the interview!
Purdue Alumni Magazine
Cool Course Catalog
Lu Ann Aday Award
Feature on Tombos
A jar discovered at the sire of La Tiza in the Nasca region of Peru.
Christina Conlee (Anthropology, Texas State University, San Marcos) and I are investigated the ancient inhabitants at the site of La Tiza in the Nasca region of southern Peru, occupied from the Late Formative until the Late Intermediate Period. The burials at the site revealed a variety of interesting features such as headless burials and new tomb types. We researched population movement at this site using strontium and oxygen isotope analysis. This research was featured in the program "Nasca Lines: The Buried Secrets" on the National Geographic Channel (premiered February 2010).
Valerie Andrushko and I investigated migration at the site of Chokepukio in the Cuzco Valley of Peru during the Inka period. Using strontium isotope analysis we provided new information regarding population movement during this time.
In collaboration with Dr. Phillip Walker (as well as Susan Kerr and Francine Drayer) I conducted a project involving the analysis of paleopathological data collected from poor individuals buried in the forgotten 19th century Legion of Honor (Golden Gate) cemetery in San Francisco.
Anne Grauer and I used bioarchaeological methods to explore the subsistence patterns of the inhabitants buried at the 4th century SU Site. We determined that that this population was likely in transition between hunting and gathering and agriculture.
LEGION OF HONOR CEMETERY
SU SITE, NEW MEXICO
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