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

The effect of age on entheseal changes at some fibrocartilaginous entheses


1Department of Archaeology, Durham University, 2Department of Experimental Evolutionary Biology, University of Bologna, Italy, 3Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria, 4Department of Anthropology and Ecology, University of Geneva, 5Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter, 6Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University

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In 2009 during the “Workshop in musculoskeletal stress markers (MSM): limitations and achievements in the reconstruction of past activity patterns” held in Coimbra, Portugal, a working group was established to review the various methodologies used to record entheseal changes (EC); and develop a standardized system to facilitate comparisons across studies. A new qualitative method was developed by the working group for fibrocartilaginous entheses. The effects of age on the features scored using this method are presented.

The sample included male skeletons (n=31) from the identified Simon collection, Geneva, Switzerland. All individuals were manual workers (age-at-death range 23 - 73 years). Five entheses were scored on an ordinal scale for bone formation (BF) and erosion (ER) of the margin, for BF, ER, FPO (fine porosity), and MPO (macroporosity) of the enthesis surface. There is a general trend of increasing scores with age. Ordinal regression indicates that these trends are significant for BF on the margin for the majority of entheses recorded but not significant for surface BF or FPO. The strength of the age effect varies by enthesis. ER (marginal and surface) and MPO did not display enough variation to detect age effects in many cases, but the subscapularis showed significant variation in scoring for all six categories of EC. The results indicate that age effects vary by the type of change and the muscle enthesis scored.

These results demonstrate that age effects EC, but that, using this recording method, some EC are more closely associated with age.

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