In 1924, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York acquired a large collection of both archaeological and documentary material that had belonged to Austrian medical doctor, anthropologist and collector Felix von Luschan. Colloquially termed “The von Luschan Collection”, a large portion of this collection consisted of human skeletal remains. Of these remains there are currently 339 individuals designated to the “el-Hesa” sub-collection, which is mainly made up of cranial and associated postcranial elements.
Uncovered in 1907 at Cemetery 2 of el-Hesa, one of the islands of the first cataract of the Nile, this skeletal collection illustrates the difficulties of using osteological material coming from Nubia, at the edge of the Egyptian territory. In particular, physical anthropologists continue to use outdated chronologies when discussing the age of the collection. This review of the el-Hesa collection provides an updated historical context for the remains, including new evidence dating them from the Late Roman period to the beginning of the Christian era.
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