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Estimating Age at Death of Archaeological Remains: A Comparison of Transition Analysis and Traditional Estimation Methods

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Objectives: The objective of this research is to develop a better understanding of the ways in which Transition Analysis estimates differ from traditional estimates in terms of age-at-death point estimation

Objectives: The objective of this research is to develop a better understanding of the ways in which Transition Analysis estimates differ from traditional estimates in terms of age-at-death point estimation and inter-observer error. Materials and methods: In order to achieve the objectives of the research, 71 adult individuals from an archaeological site in northern Sudan were subjected to Transition Analysis age estimation by the author, a beginner-level osteologist. These estimates were compared to previously produced traditional multifactorial age estimates for these individuals, as well as a small sample of Transition Analysis estimates produced by an intermediate-level investigator. Results: Transition Analysis estimates do not have a high correlation with traditional estimates of age at death, especially when those estimates fall within middle or old adult age ranges. The misalignment of beginner- and intermediate-level Transition Analysis age estimations calls into question intra-method as well as inter-method replicability of age estimations. Discussion: Although the poor overall correlation of Transition Analysis estimates and traditional estimates in this study might be blamed on the relatively low experience level of the analyst, the results cast doubt on the replicability of Transition Analysis estimations, echoing the Bethard's (2005) results on a known-age sample. The results also question the validity of refined age estimates produced for individuals previously estimated to be in the 50+ age range by traditional methods and suggest that Transition Analysis tends to produce younger estimates than its traditional counterparts. Key words: age estimation, Transition Analysis, human osteology, observer error

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Date Created
  • 2017-05

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From the Womb to the Tumulus: Stress, Growth, and Diet at the Qinifab School Site

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This dissertation examines the interrelationships between stress, frailty, growth, mortality, and diet at the Qinifab School site, Sudan, using a combination of osteological, paleopathological, and biogeochemical methods. The skeletal sample,

This dissertation examines the interrelationships between stress, frailty, growth, mortality, and diet at the Qinifab School site, Sudan, using a combination of osteological, paleopathological, and biogeochemical methods. The skeletal sample, from the fourth cataract region of Nubia, is comprised of 100 individuals from a Late Meroitic to Christian period (~250-1400 CE) cemetery. Standard osteological methods were used to estimate age and sex, and measurements were taken to assess body dimensions. Preadults were aged by dental and skeletal development, producing two independent ages to categorize individuals as developmentally “normal” or “delayed.” Data were collected on nonspecific indicators of stress, including linear enamel hypoplasias (LEHs), porotic hyperostosis (PH), and cribra orbitalia (CO). In preadults, these were compared to World Health Organization (WHO) growth standards to identify individuals who experienced stunting or wasting. For all ages, evidence of stress was compared with age at death and growth/body size. Finally, stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were conducted on bone collagen and carbonate samples from a representative sample of 60 individuals, of which 46 collagen samples and all carbonates had acceptable preservation.“Delayed” preadults generally showed reduced body size relative to “normal” individuals, they were more likely to be stunted, and their growth trajectories were less similar to WHO standards. However, childhood stress had little impact on adult body size. CO occurred at higher frequencies in preadults and individuals with mixed/active lesions died at younger ages. PH rarely developed before age 6 but was present in most individuals over that age. Individuals with earlier formed LEHs tended to experience more stress overall and die younger. Active/mixed CO was associated with stunting in preadults and reduced brachial index in adults.
A greater proportion of individuals in the Christian period were affected by CO compared to the Post-Meroitic. A temporal shift also occurred in diet between the Post-Meroitic and Christian periods based upon the δ13CCOLL and δ15NCOLL values. Lower δ15N and the greater difference in δ13CAP-COLL suggest a shift toward intensified agriculture and decreased use of animal products and a potential dietary etiology for the increase in CO.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2021