Testing the Utility of Rib Histology Methods in Age Estimation in Fragmentary Remains from Maya Rockshelter Burials

Author(s): Rachel McConnell; Bethany Slon; Amy Michael

Year: 2015


Poor skeletal preservation is a ubiquitous problem in the Maya area, complicating the use of macroscopic techniques aimed at producing age range estimates. An important, but underutilized, set of skeletal approaches to aging employ microscopic methods, which rely on quantifying age-related histomorphological changes. This study focuses on histological structures in ribs and has two objectives: 1) to refine age estimations for burials from two rockshelters in the Caves Branch River Valley, Belize using regression formulas derived from contemporary Maya populations (Pavon et al. 2010); and 2) to explore the importance of sampling location in the application of these formulae. The method of Pavon et al. (2010) suggests using the midshaft of the fourth rib, but ancient Maya remains are often too fragmentary to confidently seriate and/or the midshaft may be absent. In an effort to determine whether the lack of locational consistency negatively affects this method, a modern anatomy sample of known age-at-death was sampled along the entire shafts of all ribs at increments of 20mm, noting intra-individual variability in comparison to the fourth rib midshaft.

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Testing the Utility of Rib Histology Methods in Age Estimation in Fragmentary Remains from Maya Rockshelter Burials. Amy Michael, Bethany Slon, Rachel McConnell. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397369)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;