The biological affinities of several Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon populations as shown by dental morphology
The aim of the research presented in this thesis is to test the applicability of some of the techniques of dental anthropology to begin to provide answers to certain questions facing British archaeology. The question directly confronted in this thesis is how the change in fifth century Britain, manifested by a change in cultural material from archaeological sites, came to pass. The transition from the Romano-British period to the Anglo-Saxon period in the country now known as England is often assumed to have occurred as a result of invasions from people known as Angles, Saxons and Jutes. A common belief is that these Continental invaders wiped out the local population. The resultant replacement of the earlier culture with a 'Germanic' culture is due to these invasions. The competing hypothesis is that of biological continuity with cultural replacement. Either of these hypotheses can be supported when one examines only cultural aspects of the populations. Pottery, clothing, building and burial styles, as well as the history of the English language, have all been used to support versions of both hypotheses. It is at least theoretically possible for all of these cultural trappings to change without any biological contribution from an outside source. To ascertain which hypothesis more accurately describes the events of the fifth century in Britain, one must first know how the populations from the later period are related to those from the earlier period. To do that, one must assess the biological profiles of each population and compare them. The remains of a total of 799 people from seven sites dated to the Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon periods are evaluated using the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology Scoring method. Six of the sites were chosen in pairs, one from the Romano-British period and one from the Anglo-Saxon period in each pair, in order to test for continuity or discontinuity across time. The site pairs were spread across Southern England to test for changes across geography. Several statistical methods are used to explore the data. The results of two different distance measures show that people buried in Anglo-Saxon sites are closely related to people buried in nearby Romano-British sites. These results clearly support the hypothesis of biological continuity in the face of cultural change.