Analysis of Age‐at‐Death Estimation Through the Use of Pubic Symphyseal Data*

Journal of Forensic Sciences (Impact Factor: 1.16). 04/2008; 53(3):558 - 568. DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2008.00711.x

ABSTRACT   The question of whether age parameters derived from an American population will reliably estimate age-at-death for East European skeletal populations is important since the ability to accurately estimate an individual’s age-at-death hinges on what standard is used. A reference sample of identified individuals with known ages-at-death from the regions of the Former Yugoslavia (n = 861) is used to determine the age structure of victims and serves as the prior in the Bayesian analysis. Pubic symphyseal data in the manners of Todd (Am J Phys Anthropol, 3 [1920], 285; Am J Phys Anthropol, 4 [1921], 1) and Suchey-Brooks (Am J Phys Anthropol, 80 [1986], 167) were collected for n = 296 Balkan males and females and for n = 2078 American males and females. An analysis of deviance is calculated using an improvement chi-square to test for population variation in the aging processes of American and East European populations using proportional odds probit regression. When males and females are treated separately, there is a significant association among females and the population (df = 1, chi-square likelihood ratio = 15.071, p = 0.001). New age estimates for Balkan populations are provided and are based on the calculated age distribution from the Gompertz-Makeham hazard analysis and the ages-of-transition. To estimate the age-at-death for an individual, the highest posterior density regions for each symphyseal phase are provided.

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    • "As stated previously, Bayesian analysis in forensic contexts requires that careful attention be paid to selection of a well-suited informative prior for estimation of ageat-death (Kimmerle et al., 2008b; Konigsberg et al., 2008). Konigsberg et al. (2008) remark that for an informative prior to be ''reasonable'' the prior (known) sample and target (unknown) sample should display similar sample compositions, e.g., the skeletal samples should show similar mortuary construction. "
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    ABSTRACT: A growing body of research is demonstrating increased accuracy in aging from a relatively new method, transition analysis. Although transition analysis was developed for paleodemographic research, a majority of subsequent studies have been in the forensic arena, with very little work in bioarchaeological contexts. Using the Suchey-Brooks pubic symphysis phases, scored on a target sample of historic Italians from the island of Sardinia, we compare accuracy of aging between transition analysis combined with a Bayesian approach and the standard Suchey-Brooks age ranges. Because of the difficulty in identifying a reasonable informative prior for bioarchaeological samples, we also compared results of both an informative prior and a uniform prior for age estimation. Published ages-of-transition for the Terry Collection and Balkan genocide victims were used in conjunction with parameters generated from Gompertz hazard models derived from the priors. The ages-of-transition and hazard parameters were utilized to calculate the highest posterior density regions, otherwise known as “coverages” or age ranges, for each Suchey-Brooks phase. Each prior, along with the parameters, were input into cumulative binomial tests. The results indicate that the Bayesian approach outperformed the Suchey-Brooks technique alone. The Terry Collection surpassed the Balkans as a reasonable sample from which to derive transition analysis parameters. This discrepancy between populations is due to different within phase age-at-death distributions that reflect differences in aging between the populations. These results indicate bioarchaeologists should strive to apply a Bayesian analysis when aging historic and archaeological populations by employing an informative prior. Am J Phys Anthropol 149:259–265, 2012.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 10/2012; 149(2):259-65. DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22126 · 2.38 Impact Factor
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    • "Sex was determined by former was not preserved. Age-at-death was assessed on the basis of changes in the pubic symphysis (Brooks and Suchey, 1990; Kimmerle et al., 2008) or the auricular surface of the ilium (Schmitt, 2005), and when the pelvis was not preserved, using tooth wear (Lovejoy, 1985) or the obliteration of the ectocranial (Meindl and Lovejoy, 1985) and endocranial sutures (Acsadi and Nemeskeri, 1970). Subadult age-at-death was estimated from dental eruption (Ubelaker, 1978), measurement of long bone length (Maresh, 1970), and degree of ossifi cation and skeletal development (Scheuer and Black, 2000). "
    01/2012; 85(1). DOI:10.4081/4165
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    • "These methods have been shown to correctly predict chronological age in up to 95% of cases (Brooks & Suchey, 1990) when tested on other known individuals from different sites, but can also be adapted for modern populations (i.e. pubic symphysis for Balkan populations, see Djuricét al., 2007; Berg, 2008; Kimmerle et al., 2008). Osteologically derived estimated ages are placed within a 'range' to account for trait expression variability . "
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    ABSTRACT: This study assesses the current state of adult skeletal age-at-death estimation in biological anthropology through analysis of data published in recent research articles from three major anthropological and archaeological journals (2004–2009). The most commonly used adult ageing methods, age of ‘adulthood’, age ranges and the maximum age reported for ‘mature’ adults were compared. The results showed a wide range of variability in the age at which individuals were determined to be adult (from 14 to 25 years), uneven age ranges, a lack of standardisation in the use of descriptive age categories and the inappropriate application of some ageing methods for the sample being examined. Such discrepancies make comparisons between skeletal samples difficult, while the inappropriate use of some techniques make the resultant age estimations unreliable. At a time when national and even global comparisons of past health are becoming prominent, standardisation in the terminology and age categories used to define adults within each sample is fundamental. It is hoped that this research will prompt discussions in the osteological community (both nationally and internationally) about what defines an ‘adult’, how to standardise the age ranges that we use and how individuals should be assigned to each age category. Skeletal markers have been proposed to help physically identify ‘adult’ individuals. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 11/2011; 21(6):704 - 716. DOI:10.1002/oa.1179 · 0.95 Impact Factor
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