The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


A three dimensional analysis of femoral cortical canal structure in Middle Holocene, Lake Baikal hunter-gatherer-fishers

KATHLEEN J. FACCIA1, HELEN BUIE2, M. ANNE. KATZENBERG1, VALDIMIR I. BAZALIISKII3 and OLGA I. GORIUNOVA3.

1Archaeology, University of Calgary, 2Mechanical Engineering, University of Calgary, 3Archaeology and Ethnography, Irkutsk State University

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This research tests the ability of microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) to detect three dimensional age-related changes in the cortical canal structure of archaeological femora. Samples, derived from middle Holocene Cis-Baikal hunter-gatherer-fishers (n=90), were scanned, and seven variables were analysed. Results for the pooled sample produced trends similar to those detected in a modern sample. Canal number and separation differed among adolescents and young adults when compared with middle and old adults (ANCOVA and ANOVA, p<0.05). Males and females displayed differences in age-related trends for canal number, separation, diameter, and canal surface to canal volume. For males, canal number and separation remained significantly different between young and old adults (ANOVA, p<0.05). In females, however, significant differences were found for canal diameter and canal surface to canal volume, when comparing adolescents to young and old adults (ANOVA, p<0.05). Differences between the sexes were also found for canal number and canal separation (t-test, p<0.05), with females maintaining larger canals with less distance between them.

Micro-CT proved successful in detecting age-related cortical canal changes in prehistoric femora. Significant differences were identified between age-at-death categories, which appeared to be associated with the transition into middle adulthood. Differences between the sexes, in trends and the variables identified as significant, were likely physiologically-based, although the possibility of an activity-based component exists. Ultimately, micro-CT provides a new and compelling avenue for detecting age- and sex- related changes in cortical microstructure, allowing novel insight into bone quality in past populations.

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, MCRI No.s 412-2000-28, 412-2005-1004.

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