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A test of Juvenile Age Estimation Methods Based on the Diaphyseal Length of the Long Bones

Author(s): Hugo Cardoso ; Joana Abrantes ; Laure Spake ; Luis Rios

Year: 2017

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Little work has been done on whether juvenile age estimation methods perform well beyond the population that was used as a reference. This study uses a sample of 81 known-age juvenile skeletons, aged between birth and 12 years, combining data from archaeological, anatomical and forensic reference collections in the US, Canada and South Africa. Ages were estimated from the diaphyseal lengths of the humerus, radius, femur and tibia, using Cardoso et al. (2014) and Stull et al. (2014) prediction models. Results show that methods based on size are only reliably applied across samples before the age of 2 years, after which population differences in growth become noticeable. Results also show that ancestry-specific bone size and limb proportions have little if any effect on the reliability of age predictions. The main factor to consider when selecting an age estimation method is population nutritional and health status, not ancestry. These findings have important implications for age estimation of juvenile skeletons in archaeological contexts, and suggest that bone size is not a reliable age predictor, particularly after the age of two years.

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A test of Juvenile Age Estimation Methods Based on the Diaphyseal Length of the Long Bones. Hugo Cardoso, Joana Abrantes, Laure Spake, Luis Rios. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429767)


Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16402

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America