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

Estimation of biological sex from activity patterns for subadult skeletal remains from the Windover and Indian Knoll Archaic populations


Anthropology, Florida State University

Saturday 10:45-11:00, Parlors Add to calendar

Prior to maturation and the full development of sexually dimorphic characters, it is extremely difficult to estimate the sex of subadults in archaeological samples. The objective of this study is to identify gender or sex specific activity patterns as reflected in the osteometric and cross-sectional asymmetry of adult upper limbs, and to test the predictability of sexing subadults based on these observed patterns in the Windover and Indian Knoll Archaic populations. Differences in subsistence strategy and culturally specific behaviors relating to the division of labor need to be taken into account when reconstructing prehistoric activity patterns in both adults and subadults. Assuming that subadults gradually begin performing adult tasks, and that their activities are determined primarily by age and sex, at a certain age subadults should begin to diverge and cluster with either the males or females of the population. Ethnographic data for foraging groups indicate that the youngest age groups (under 6 years) are typically performing female activities. After this age boys begin performing male tasks. As they enter adolescence there should therefore be clear morphological distinctions in the subadult remains corresponding to the asymmetry patterns seen in the adults. The results of this study show that discriminant tests using the most sexually divergent measurements of asymmetry (principle components) from the adult and subadult samples are successful in reclassifying 71.4% (Indian Knoll) and 100% (Windover) of the subadults into the adult sex categories.

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