Ph.D. Defense: Rachel Byrd


Apr 16 2019 - 10:30am

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
10:30 a.m.
ASM Room 309

Title: Biodistance Evidence for Migration and Gene Flow in the North American Southwest, 2100 BC–AD 1700

Abstract: A great deal of research has focused on delineating the dimensions of migration in order to more fully understand its impact on local and migrant communities. However, as a process that involves both social and biological factors, migration requires a more heavily integrated approach to track and understand its effects on past populations. When considering the frequency and distances humans migrate, Native groups in the North American Southwest show considerable diversity in their trajectories. My dissertation develops an approach for reconstructing population histories from the phenotypic variation of cranial morphology (biodistance) across the Southwest reflecting over 3,800 years of agricultural occupation to help test and link archaeological and biological models and inferences. In this presentation I will describe my research using a temporally and geographically extensive craniometric database (N=1,299, representing 28 sub-regions) to examine biological traces of three archaeologically-based migration models: 1) colonization of open landscapes, 2) internal frontiers and diaspora, and 3) reorganization and coalescence. Comparisons of facial measurements across the samples provide support that biological signatures follow these processes, and ultimately different modes of migration and population interaction transformed population structure and social organization across the Southwest. The results from this research have archaeological implications as they directly test migration inferences made from archaeological materials with biological evidence and help expand and build upon our current understanding of population history in the region. In addition, this approach and these data can contribute to the incorporation of biological evidence into determining cultural affiliation using ancestral human remains, and bridge approaches to understanding Native population histories through time.

Committee Members: James Watson (Chair), Barbara Mills, Patrick Lyons, and David Raichlen

Calendar Type: 

Send to college calendar: 


Mark as important date: