1Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, 2CIAS – Centro de investigação em Antropologia e Saúde, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal, 3Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom, 4Departamento de Ciências da Vida, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal, 5CENCIFOR – Centro de Ciências Forenses, Portugal, 6Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, University of Windsor, Canada
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Usually age at death estimation in adults is unreliable, probably due to genetic and environmental factors that influence rates of bone degeneration. However, little is known regarding the concrete influence of those factors on bone metamorphosis. The trabecular system is distinct between superior and inferior demifaces of the iliac auricular surface, and possibly contributes to a different rate of bone degeneration on both demifaces.
In the present work the rate of bone degeneration was compared between superior and inferior demifaces from 272 left iliac auricular surfaces (119 female and 153 male individuals aged 18 to 84 years old) from the Identified Skeletal Collection at the University of Coimbra, Portugal.
For each demiface, stages of six characteristics associated with age were recorded. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare the rate of bone degeneration between superior and inferior demifaces. We also examined the correlations of composite score (sum of the scores for the individual six characteristics) with age.
In the total sample, for both sexes, the U tests show that superior and inferior demifaces from the iliac auricular surface do not present a statistically significant difference (p>0.05) in the rate of metamorphosis with age. However, the correlation analysis suggests that in females there are more marked age-related changes in the inferior demiface than in the superior demiface, a pattern that was not found in male individuals.
It is likely that the distinctive morphology of the female auricular region contributes to this observed difference in the pattern of bone degeneration.
Grant: Vanessa Campanacho is supported by a grant from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (grant reference: SFRH/BD/77962/2011)