African Archaeological Review

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 133–137 | Cite as

Brief Report: Carthaginian Affinities with Ancient and Recent Maghreban and Levantine Groups: Craniometric Analyses Using Distance and Discrimination

  • S. O. Y. Keita
Research Report


Carthage was founded in northwestern Africa (in present-day Tunisia), by Phoenician settler colonists from the Levant in the first millennium BCE, and conquered by Rome in the second century BCE. This region had an indigenous population and was not terra nullius. Textual evidence suggests Carthaginians throughout their history ascribed prestige to Phoenician ancestry, which might suggest a predisposition to endogamy, although there is textual and archaeological evidence for interaction with the indigenous people. This brief report explores the relative craniometric affinities of a small pre-Roman Carthaginian series to ancient and modern ones from these two regions (the Levant and the Maghreb) using distance and discriminant analyses. The results indicate a craniometric pattern intermediate to the two ancient series (one Phoenician, the other Maghreban), but slightly closer to the one from the ancient Maghreb.


Carthage Amazigh Phoenician Africa Discriminant analysis Biological distance 


Une petite série de crânes Carthaginois datant de la période pré-romaine a été analysée à l’aide de distance et de discrimination dans le de trouver des similitudes avec d’anciennes séries Phéniciens et Maghrébins (Amazigh). Les résultats indiquent que cette série carthaginoise est. un intermédiaire biologique entre les anciens crânes Phéniciens et Maghrébins. Notre étude comprend une revue des explications possibles pour ces résultats. Elle nous permet également d’examiner en détails la question de la nature des interactions entre Phéniciens et Amazigh.



I wish to thank Gisselle Garcia of the American Museum of the Natural History, and Franz Manni (and J. Heim) of the Musée de’l Homme, for allowing access to collections in their care at various times. Dr. M.-C. Chamla (of the Musée) generously gave me reprints of her publications many years ago, and provided background information for the collections. I would like to acknowledge and honor the late Professor Frank Snowden who had an interest in Greek and Roman commentary on Carthage. The late Right Reverend Wallace Conkling was a distant inspiration for this work, having asked me questions many years ago about Amazigh culture and its possible influence in the work of St. Augustine (questions, no doubt which would be interesting to post-modernists). I would also like to acknowledge Tony Boyce, my supervisor, recently retired from Oxford, for his support through the years. This work is dedicated to him. There are no conflicting financial or other considerations. This piece is dedicated to Caroline, Omar, Rehema and my mother.

Funding Infomation

Aspects of this work were made possible by funding from the Chancellors and Vice Principals of the United Kingdom and the Boise Fund (Oxford).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interests.


  1. Aubet, M. E. (1996). The Phoenicians and the West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bertholon, L., & Chantre, E. (1913). Recherches anthropologiques dans la Berbéri’e oriental, Tripolitaine, Tunisie, Algérie. Vols. 1 and 2. Lyon: Rey.Google Scholar
  3. Brett, M., & Fentress, E. (1997). The Berbers. London: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Chamla, M.-C. (1976). Men of protohistoric and Punic sepultures of North Africa (Algeria and Tunis). Anthropologies, 80, 75–116.Google Scholar
  5. Corruccini, R. S. (1978). Morphometric analysis: Uses and abuses. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 21, 134–150.Google Scholar
  6. Daniels, C. M. (1970). The Garamantes of southern Libya. Cambridge: Oleander Press.Google Scholar
  7. Desanges, J. (1981). The proto-Berbers. In G. Mohktar (Ed.), UNESCO general history of Africa (Vol. 2, pp. 423–440). Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  8. Ehret, C. (1995). Reconstructing proto-Afroasiatic (proto-Afrasian): Vowels, tones, consonants and vocabulary. Los Angeles: University of California.Google Scholar
  9. Frigi, S., Cherni, L., Fadlaouhi-Zid, K., & Benammar-Elgaaied, A. (2010). Ancient local evolution of African mtDNA haplogroups in Tunisian Berber populations. Human Biology, 82, 367–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Greenberg, J. (1963). The languages of Africa. Bloomington: University of Indiana.Google Scholar
  11. Jungers, W. L., Falsetti, A. B., & Wall, C. (1995). Shape, relative size, and size adjustments in morphometrics. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 38, 137–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Keita, S. O. Y. (1990). Studies of ancient crania from northern Africa. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 83, 35–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Keita, S. O. Y. (1993). Black Athena: “Race,” Bernal and Snowden. Arethusa, 26, 297–317.Google Scholar
  14. Keita, S. O. Y. (2010). Biocultural emergence of the Amazigh (Berbers) in Africa: comment on Frigi et al. (2010). Human Biology, 82, 385–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Keita, S. O. Y., & Boyce, A. J. (2008). Temporal variation in phenetic affinity in early Upper Egyptian cranial series. Human Biology, 80, 141–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Leach, S., Eckardt, H., Chenery, C., Mulder, G., & Lewis, M. (2010). A lady of York: Migration, ethnicity, and identity in Roman Britain. Antiquity, 84, 134–145.Google Scholar
  17. Marquez-Grant, N. (2005). The presence of African individuals in Punic populations from the island of Ibiza (Spain): contributions from physical anthropology. Mayurqa, 30, 611–637.Google Scholar
  18. Merrills, A. H. (2004). Vandals, Romans and Berbers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Merrills, A. H., & Miles, R. (2014). The Vandals. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Miles, A. H. (2011). Carthage must be destroyed. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  21. Mitchell, P. D., & Millard, A. R. (2009). Migration to the medieval Middle East with the Crusades. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140, 518–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Prawer, J. (1972). The Crusaders’ kingdom: European colonialism in the Middle Ages. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  23. Snowden, F. (1970). Blacks in antiquity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  24. van Dommelen, P. (1997). Colonial constructs: Colonialism and archaeology in the Mediterranean. World Archaeology, 28, 305–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. van Dommelen, P. (2005). Colonial interactions and hybrid practices. Phoenician and Carthaginian settlement in the ancient Mediterranean. In G. Stein (Ed.), The archaeology of colonial encounters. Comparative perspectives (pp. 109–141). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.Google Scholar
  26. van Dommelen, P. (2012). Colonialism and migration in the ancient Mediterranean. Annual Review of Anthropology, 41, 393–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Van Vark, G. N. (1976). A critical evaluation of the application of multivariate statistical methods to the study of human populations from their skeletal remains. Homo, 27, 94–114.Google Scholar
  28. Warmington, B. H. (1960). Carthage. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  29. Zalloua, P., Platt, D., El Sibai, M., Khalife, J., Makhoui, N., Haber, M., Xue, Y., Izabel, H., Bosch, E., Adams, S., Arroyo, A., Lopez-Parra, A., Aler, M., Picornell, A., Ramon, M., Jobling, M., Comas, D., Betranpetit, J., Wells, R. S., & Tyler-Smith, C. (2008). Identifying genetic traces of historical expansions: Phoenician footprints in the Mediterranean. American Journal of Human Genetics, 83, 633–642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Zegura, S. L. (1978). Components, factors and confusion. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 21, 151–159.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AnthropologySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations