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


Subadult age estimation at Tell-el Amarna: a systematic, site-specific approach

GRETCHEN R. DABBS1 and MELISSA ZABECKI2.

1Department of Anthropology, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, 2Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

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When dental hard tissues are incomplete or absent, estimation of subadult age generally relies on long bone lengths and the degree of epiphyseal fusion. Unfortunately, both long bone growth and epiphyseal fusion are commonly affected by health and nutritional status, complicating the process of age estimation when dental tissues are lacking. Beginning at approximately 7.5 months, significant growth delay in the subadult sample (n=94) at Tell el-Amarna, Egypt (1352-1336 BCE) presents dichotomous age estimates for individuals possessing both dental tissues and complete long bones for age estimation. The dental age estimates average 20 months in advance of the long bone age estimates based on the Maresh standards. Clearly, age estimates based on long bone length using modern standards would be far too young, skewing the demographic profile and adversely affecting analyses based on that profile. This study reports on a systematic method for standardizing long bone lengths to dental development at a specific archaeological site, and produces metrics for age estimation using long bone lengths applicable to this, and potentially other, New Kingdom Amarna Period Egyptian sites. The method described can be applied to any archaeological site with large subadult samples to first test for the presence of significant biological insult, and second to ensure the demographic profile built from the skeletal remains is representative of the actual population.

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