Age assessment of the Spitalfields cemetery population by rib phase analysis

Department of Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Florida 33431
American Journal of Human Biology (Impact Factor: 1.93). 01/1995; 7(4):465 - 471. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.1310070408

ABSTRACT Accurate paleodemographic reconstruction depends in large part on the ability to estimate age at death from the skeleton. Thus, it is important to evaluate the reliability of standards utilized for this assessment. The rib phase technique has proven to be one of the most consistently reliable means of determining age in modern human adults. A recent study also demonstrated that this method can be applied to Neandertals because they exhibit the same pattern of age-related change. However, the efficacy of the rib phases in aging archaeological populations of anatomically modern humans has not been systematically examined. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to determine if ribs from the 16th to 18th century Spitalfields cemetery population (with church records of age at death) manifest a morphological aging pattern similar to that found in the recent specimens upon which the rib phase standards are based. Age was assessed on a sample of 87 individuals using only the sternal ends of the ribs without access to the rest of the skeleton or records of age and sex. Results indicated that Spitalfields ribs exhibit essentially the same aging patterns found in the ribs of modern Whites. Overall, the demographic profile generated from the ribs produced a good approximation of this sample in both range and distribution. Error was in the direction of underaging, and results for males were better than for females. The present findings indicate that the rib can be considered a reliable site for age estimation in archaeological populations. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Bang and Ramm method uses root dentine translucency (RDT) length in sectioned or unsectioned teeth as a sole indicator of chronological age at death in adult human remains. The formulae have been tested on modern remains of known age and on modern and archaeological remains of unknown age. This is the first published study of the method on known-age archaeological specimens and tests whether RDT is a good indicator of chronological age in buried human remains. We applied the Bang and Ramm equations to two 18th and 19th century assemblages excavated from the crypt of Christ Church, Spitalfields, and the cemetery of All Hallows by the Tower. Translucency was defined by shining a light through the external unsectioned root surface and was measured from digital images of 583 and 83 nonmolar roots from 126 Spitalfields and 12 All Hallows individuals, respectively, aged 21–81 years. Average absolute difference between real age and estimated age was 10.7 years and 8.4 years for Spitalfields and All Hallows individuals, respectively, with 58% and 75% estimated within 10 years of known age, and 29% and 33% estimated within five years of known age. These estimations are comparable to results from other ageing methods applied to the Spitalfields collection. Ages from both populations were estimated largely to the middle ranges, with younger individuals overestimated and older individuals underestimated. This is a common occurrence when using inverse calibration, where age is treated as the dependent variable and the ageing feature as the independent variable. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 11/2014; 155(3). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22566 · 2.51 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Wiley Encylopedia of Forensic Science, Edited by A. Jamieson, A. Moenssens, 01/2011: chapter Forensic Anthropology: pages 152-178.; Wiley and Son Ltd.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It is generally assumed that life expectancy in antiquity was considerably shorter than it is now. In the limited number of cases where skeletal or al age-at-death estimates have been made on adults for whom there are other reliable indications of age, there appears to be a clear systemtatic trend towards overestimating the age of young adults, and underestimating that of older individuals. We show that this might be a result of the use of regression-based techniques of analysis for converting age indicators into estimated ages. Whilst acknowledging the limitations of most age-at-death indicators in the higher age categories, we show that a Bayesian approach to converting age indicators into estimated age can reduce this trend of underestimation at the older end. We also show that such a Bayesian approach can always do better than regression-based methods in terms of giving a smaller average difference between predicted age and known age, and a smaller average 95-percent confidence interval width of the estimate. Given these observations, we suggest that Bayesian approaches to converting age indicators into age estimates deserve further investigation. In view of the generality and flexibility of the approach, we also suggest that similar algorithms may have a much wider application.
    American Antiquity 01/1999; 64(1):55. DOI:10.2307/2694345 · 1.51 Impact Factor