SciCombinator

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Concept: Nubia

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Egypt, located on the isthmus of Africa, is an ideal region to study historical population dynamics due to its geographic location and documented interactions with ancient civilizations in Africa, Asia and Europe. Particularly, in the first millennium BCE Egypt endured foreign domination leading to growing numbers of foreigners living within its borders possibly contributing genetically to the local population. Here we present 90 mitochondrial genomes as well as genome-wide data sets from three individuals obtained from Egyptian mummies. The samples recovered from Middle Egypt span around 1,300 years of ancient Egyptian history from the New Kingdom to the Roman Period. Our analyses reveal that ancient Egyptians shared more ancestry with Near Easterners than present-day Egyptians, who received additional sub-Saharan admixture in more recent times. This analysis establishes ancient Egyptian mummies as a genetic source to study ancient human history and offers the perspective of deciphering Egypt’s past at a genome-wide level.

Concepts: Africa, North Africa, Ancient Egypt, Egypt, Slavery, Ancient history, Mummy, Nubia

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Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a mosquito-borne zoonosis, which may cause significant losses for the livestock sector and have serious public health implications. Egypt has been repeatedly affected by RVF epidemics, mainly associated to the importation of animals from sub-Saharan countries, where the disease is endemic. The objective of our study was the improvement of the surveillance and control strategies implemented in Egypt. In order to do that, first we evaluated the legal trade of live animals into and within Egypt. Then, we assessed the risk of Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV) transmission within the country using a multi-criteria evaluation approach. Finally, we combined the animal trade and the risk of RVFV transmission data to identify those areas and periods in which the introduction of RVFV is more likely. Our results indicate that the main risk of RVFV introduction is posed by the continuous flow of large number of camels coming from Sudan. The risk of RVFV transmission by vectors is restricted to the areas surrounding the Nile river, and does not vary significantly throughout the year. Imported camels are taken to quarantines, where the risk of RVFV transmission by vectors is generally low. Then, they are taken to animal markets or slaughterhouses, many located in populated areas, where the risk of RVFV transmission to animals or humans is much higher. The measures currently implemented (quarantines, vaccination or testing) seem to have a limited effect in reducing the risk of RVFV introduction, and therefore other (risk-based) surveillance strategies are proposed.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Sahara, Ethiopia, Sudan, Red Sea, Nile, Cairo, Nubia

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The transition to agriculture was a key event in human history. The extent to which this transition is associated with biological changes in different world regions remains debated. Cultural and osteological records in Lower Nubia throughout the Holocene have been interpreted as a result of in situ differentiation or alternatively as migratory events and possible admixture with surrounding populations. Here we investigated the patterns of craniofacial and mandibular variation from Mesolithic hunting-gathering to late farming, a period spanning 11,000 years. We analyzed 102 adult specimens spanning five cultural horizons: Mesolithic, A-group, C-group, Pharaonic and Meroitic, by means of 3D geometric morphometric methods, in order to assess shape variation and diachronic patterns at the transition to farming and in subsequent periods. Our results highlight a strong morphometric distinction between Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and farmers as well as differences between transitional and intensive farmers in mandibular variation which is consistent with differential impact of selective pressures on different regions of the skull. This study corroborates a major biological change during the transition from hunting to farming, supporting the masticatory-functional hypothesis for the mandible and suggesting population continuity among farming populations throughout the Holocene based on the overall shape of the cranium.

Concepts: Natural selection, Agriculture, Biology, Skull, Civilization, Nubia, A-Group, C-Group

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We aimed to investigate the determinants of comprehensive eye examination in diabetes patients. We conducted a cross-sectional study at the eye department of the Douala General Hospital. Adult patients with diabetes were consecutively interviewed on the history of their diabetes. Main outcomes were a first ever comprehensive eye examination including fundoscopy, and diagnosis-to-fundoscopy time.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Black people, Ophthalmology, African people, Optic disc, African immigration to the United States, Nubia

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During the Nubia Salvage Campaign and the subsequent expeditions from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, numerous sites attributed to the Late Palaeolithic (~25-15 ka) were found in the Nile Valley, particularly in Nubia and Upper Egypt. This region is one of the few to have allowed human occupations during the dry Marine Isotope Stage 2 and is therefore key to understanding how human populations adapted to environmental changes at this time. This paper focuses on two sites located in Upper Egypt, excavated by the Combined Prehistoric Expedition: E71K18, attributed to the Afian industry and E71K20, attributed to the Silsilian industry. It aims to review the geomorphological and chronological evidence of the sites, present a technological analysis of the lithic assemblages in order to provide data that can be used in detailed comparative studies, which will allow discussion of technological variability in the Late Palaeolithic of the Nile Valley and its place within the regional context. The lithic analysis relies on the chaîne opératoire concept combined with an attribute analysis to allow quantification. This study (1) casts doubts on the chronology of E71K18 and related Afian industry, which could be older or younger than previously suggested, highlights (2) distinct technological characteristics for the Afian and the Silsilian, as well as (3) similar technological characteristics which allow to group them under a same broad techno-cultural complex, distinct from those north or south of the area.

Concepts: Ancient Egypt, Egypt, Sudan, Nile, Aswan, Lake Nasser, Nubia, History of Egypt

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The links between empowerment and a number of health-related outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa have been documented, but empowerment related to pregnancy is under-investigated. Antenatal care (ANC) is the entry point into the healthcare system for most women, so it is important to understand how ANC affects aspects of women’s sense of control over their pregnancy. We compare pregnancy-related empowerment for women randomly assigned to the standard of care versus CenteringPregnancy-based group ANC (intervention) in two sub-Saharan countries, Malawi and Tanzania.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Obstetrics, Malawi, Southern Africa, Nubia

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This article analyzes the modernization campaigns in Egypt in the 1960s and early 1970s. The regulation of the Nile by the Aswan High Dam and the resulting irrigation projects caused the rate of schistosomiasis infestation in the population to rise. The result was a discourse between experts from the global north and Egyptian elites about modernization, development aid, dam building and health care. The fight against schistosomiasis was like a cipher, which combined different power-laden concepts and arguments. This article will decode the cipher and allow a deeper look into the contemporary dimensions of power bound to this subject. The text is conceived around three thematic axes. The first deals with the discursive interplay of modernization, health and development aid in and for Egypt. The second focuses on far-reaching and long-standing arguments within an international expert discourse about these concepts. Finally, the third presents an exemplary case study of West German health and development aid for fighting schistosomiasis in the Egyptian Fayoum oasis.

Concepts: Egypt, Nile, Cairo, Aswan Dam, Aswan, Lake Nasser, Nubia, Flooding of the Nile

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Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a major health problem in Sudan and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of complications of type 2 diabetes across different cities in the country.

Concepts: Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Ethiopia, Slavery, Nubia

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Stunting remains a major public health concern worldwide. Although its global prevalence is slowly decreasing, the actual number of affected children is still rising in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the Central African Republic (CAR), about one third of all children below the age of five are stunted. Stunting is correlated with many long-term consequences, including poor cognitive development and a higher rate of morbidity and mortality, making stunting a major contributor to poverty. In CAR, little is known about the factors that contribute to stunting. This study aimed at analysing, in a cross-sectional study, the main factors associated with stunting in a group of 414 children recruited between December 2011 and November 2013, aged five years or less and living in Bangui. For all children, demographic, socio-economic and anthropometric data were recorded and asymptomatic enteropathogen carriage was assessed in stool samples using classical microbiological assays. The study group had a mean age of 14.2±10 months. Fifty-eight percent (292/414) were boys, and 36 percent (148/414) exhibited stunted growth. Of the stunted children, 51% (75/148) showed a moderate delay in linear growth for their age group [height-for-age z-score (HAZ) between -2 and -3 SD] while 49% (73/148) presented a severe delay (HAZ < -3). Factors significantly associated with stunting included gender (aOR: 1.67; 95% CI: 1.07; 2.62 for boys compared to girls) and age (aOR of 3.98 (95% CI: 2.45; 6.46) for toddlers and aOR 4.42 (95% CI: 2.36; 8.28) for children compared to infants). Most importantly, we identified being overweight [weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) > 2 SD; aOR: 3.21; 95% CI: 1.50; 6.90 of overweight compared to normal weight] as also being significantly associated with stunting. This is the first study showing that even in the poorest countries of the world there is an association of stunting with being overweight.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Africa, Poverty, The Age, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Bangui, Nubia

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The oxygen isotope compositions of bones (n = 11) and teeth (n = 20) from 12 Sudanese individuals buried on Sai Island (Nubia) were analysed to investigate the registration of the evolution of the Nile environment from 3700 to 500 years BP and the potential effects of ontogeny on the oxygen isotope ratios. The isotopic compositions were converted into the composition of drinking water, ultimately originating from the Nile. δ(18)O values decrease during ontogeny; this is mainly related to breastfeeding and physiology. Those of neonates present very large variations. Neonates have a very high bone turnover and are thus able to record seasonal δ(18)O variations of the Nile waters. These variations followed a pattern very similar to the present one. Nile δ(18)O values increased from 1.4 to 4.4 ‰ (Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water) from the Classic Kerma (∼3500 BP) through the Christian period (∼1000 BP), traducing a progressive drying of Northeast Africa.

Concepts: Oxygen, Water, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, Red Sea, Nile, Nubia