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

The potential of entheses for estimating age


Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University

Friday 10:15-10:30, Parlors Add to calendar

Entheses, sites where muscles attach to bone, have long been used in bioarchaeology to reconstruct past activity. Since these markers also correlate with age, it has been suggested that enthesial robusticity may be useful for age estimation. In an effort to test this idea, the robusticity of 9 femoral entheses and 7 humeral entheses were scored on 495 individuals from the Hamann-Todd collection. Scores were given as follows for fibrous entheses: 0 for no enthesial development, 1 for either a defined or elevated enthesis, 2 for both a defined and elevated enthesis, 3 for a defined enthesis with porosity, and a 4 for an enthesis that was both porous and had lost definition due to bone resorption. Spearman rank-order correlations were performed between each enthesis and age. Though nearly all entheses demonstrated a significant correlation with age, only two had a correlation value greater than 0.5 (a moderate correlation): the proximal and the middle linea aspera. Combining these two scores into a composite score increased the correlation coefficient from 0.534 and 0.536, respectively, to 0.565. This composite score results in 9 stages whose age ranges were calculated out to two standard deviations on either side of the mean age for each score. The average range is 50 years total or 25 years on either side of the average age for that score. The size of these ranges is not ideal for age estimation but this method may be utilized when the traditional skeletal elements used for aging are not available.

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