The Age of a Stone Age Human Skeleton Determined by Means of Root Dentin Transparency

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Age determination at death of skeletal remains can prove difficult. The teeth are often well preserved and could present the only means for an age evaluation. Based on the closure of skull sutures and dental attrition, the age of a Stone Age man was judged to be about 60 years when he succumbed. This has now been verified by means of measuring the extent of root dentin transparency. The importance of teamwork in difficult cases regarding assessment of age in skeletal remains is pointed out.

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... Differentiating between tooth types (23-105 roots per tooth type; mean 41 roots), they demonstrated that RDT length measured quantitatively on its own from sectioned or unsectioned teeth was significantly correlated to chronological age. The resulting age estimation equations have been frequently tested in known-age modern remains (Solheim and Sundnes, 1980;Lorentsen and Solheim, 1989;Lucy et al., 1995;Meinl et al., 2008;Ubelaker and Parra, 2008) and the method has contributed to the widespread application of RDT length for age at death estimation in forensic and archaeological contexts (Bang, 1972;Solheim, 1989;Drusini et al., 1990;Drusini, 1991;Bang, 1993;Beyer-Olsen et al., 1994;Kvaal and During, 1999;Pretty, 2003;Olze et al., 2004;Alt et al., 2006;Brkić et al., 2006;Holck, 2006;Reppien et al., 2006;Acharya and Vimi, 2009). Depending on tooth type and orientation, the use of sectioned or intact teeth, and length of the translucent zone, correlations between RDT and known-age modern teeth ranged from r 5 0.50 to r 5 0.93 with S.D.s from 66.85 years to 615.76 years. ...
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.
... New procedures based upon probabilistic age at death have been suggested by Konigsberg and Frankenberg (1992) to bring more statistical rigour to the use of life tables by palaeodemographers and anthropologists. With this move towards improving existing age at death estimation techniques, more accurate age related macrostructural changes in teeth have recently been reexamined as an alternative to skeletally based techniques (Bang, 1993;Drusini et al., 1991). This paper tests three established dental techniques with a sample of known age individuals from a contemporary population, and recommends a modified statistical treatment for combining the various age estimates. ...
For a number of years it has been realized that age related morphological changes in the human skeleton are not the most accurate, or precise, means of estimating the age at death for an individual, and that dental changes can be used as an alternative. This paper critically examines three of the methods used for estimating human age from the dentition which have appeared in the forensic science literature, testing them against a known modern sample population. A new statistical technique to improve age estimates is described and applied to some archaeological specimens.
Palaeodemography, the means of amassing information from the teeth of the general population, is addressed in this study. Palaeodemography deals with the social characteristics of an ancient population and their development through time, in essence, the lifestyle of a population. The analysis and interpretation of dental data provided by the archaeologist’s discovery of human remains, specifically dental remains, will throw light on settlement history, palaeodemography and kinship. The internal shifts and strains caused by population migration are vital for understanding the social lifestyle of ancient Egypt. To determine the age at death of individuals, dental wear is but one of the changes that occurs in the process of natural aging and provides one of the most accurate means to determine the age of an individual. The population’s health and disease issues are measured by hypoplastic markings in teeth and even sex physiognomics are locked in teeth. Modern technology, in the form of x-rays, has invaluable prominence in the research of mummified and skeletal human dental remains. Non-invasive procedures in examination of bioarchaeological remains have become all important to preserve data for future research.
A pilot study on eight skulls from the churchyard of St Olav's church in Trondheim, excavated in 1988–1989, was carried out to compare age determined by root dentine translucency with the age assessed by a physical anthropologist. The difference in mean age between the two methods was not significant (p = 0.06). Age determinations based on root dentine translucency were then performed on removable teeth from the adults among the 248 skeletons found in the same churchyard, excavated in 1984–1985. A comparison between the ages determined using root dentine translucency and the ages previously determined by the direct inspection method was performed. A significant systematic difference was seen between the two methods (p = 0.000). The root dentine translucency method gave an age range for the cohort excavated in 1984–1985 between 30 and 72 years, whereas the direct inspection method gave a range between 15 and 63 years. Because evaluation of many criteria are required to achieve reasonably accurate estimates of age in connection with the direct inspection method, expertise in skeletal biology is necessary. The method of measuring root dentine translucency as a tool in archaeological and anthropological work and fieldwork and in forensic science seems to have advantages because the method can be used without previous extensive training.
On sectioning six of eight externally well-preserved teeth taken from four skeletons from Medieval Chichester they displayed a superficial similarity to teeth described in the forensic literature as ‘pink teeth’. This article reviews the occurrence of ‘pink teeth’ in forensic specimens and describes the teeth from Chichester using a variety of analytical techniques. We conclude that, despite the similarities, the pink coloration in the archaeological specimens has a different cause from the forensic samples, and that in archaeological contexts the pinkness is probably related to post-mortem change brought about by saprophytic fungi. However, the exact cause of the coloration remains unexplained. We discuss briefly the implications of this observation for dental ageing techniques and other studies of archaeological teeth.
Determination of age in humans from root dentin transparency. Acta Odont. Scand. 28, 3. Bang, G Age changes in teeth: devel-opmental and regressive
  • G Bang
  • E Ramm
Bang, G. & Ramm, E. 1970. Determination of age in humans from root dentin transparency. Acta Odont. Scand. 28, 3. Bang, G. 1989. Age changes in teeth: devel-opmental and regressive. In Iscan, M. Y. (ed.), Age Markers in the Human Skeleton, p. 211. C. C. Thomas, Springfield.
Assessment of age at death in the human skeleton
  • M Y Iscan
Iscan, M. Y. 1989. Assessment of age at death in the human skeleton. In Iscan, M. Y. (ed.), Age Markers in the Human Skeleton, p.