Article

Cranial suture closure and its implications for age estimation

International Journal of Osteoarchaeology (Impact Factor: 0.95). 05/2005; 4(3):193 - 207. DOI: 10.1002/oa.1390040304

ABSTRACT Three age estimation techniques using ectocranial and/or endocranial suture closure are tested on a sample of known age from Spitalfields, London in order to determine the value of cranial suture closure as an indicator of age at death. The three techniques are those proposed by Acsádi and Nemeskéri, Meindl and Lovejoy and Perizonius. Results indicate that the Acsádi and Nemeskéri technique, which is based on endocranial sutures, can be used to distinguish young and middle-aged individuals in the Spitalfields sample but gives no information for crania over the age of 50 years. Age estimation using the Meindl and Lovejoy and Perizonius (Old system) techniques, which use ectocranial sutures, was found to be subject to a number of complicating factors, of which sexual dimorphism in the rate and pattern of closure is the most significant. A method of estimating age at death based on both endocranial and ectocranial suture closure is developed on the basis of the Spitalfields sample. The technique attempts to overcome some of the problems associated with both intra- and interpopulation variation in cranial suture closure. For a truly accurate age-estimation technique based on cranial suture closure we would need to know more about the causes and functions of suture closure in human populations.

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