The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Do two age-related characteristics identified in Korean archaeological skeletal samples influence Transition Analysis final age-at-death estimates?


1Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2Department of Anthropology, Seoul National University, 3Department of Anatomy/Institute of Forensic Medicine, Seoul National University

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One practical difficulty of “traditional” age-at-death phase methods is to properly identify skeletal features on each age indicator that strongly correlate with age. This is largely due to subjective inter-observer interpretation of age-related feature. Because of this, age-at-death assessments based on composite scoring system have recently been championed over phase methods. However, a dilemma still arises in the application of the composite scoring method when there is a potential age-related skeletal feature that does not fit the conventional definition of the age-at-death methods. In this instance, the physical anthropologist’s decision must be made with caution because either including the unclear skeletal feature into the age estimate as a variational form of the conventionally defined feature or excluding it as a non-metric trait unrelated to age may result in significantly different age estimates.

To address this issue, this study presents two unique features on the sacro-iliac articulation of the ilium that have been identified in Korean archaeological skeletal samples from the Joseon Dynasty (late 13th-early 20th century): 1) wide grooves on the auricular surface, and 2) accessory facets on the retroauricular area. Transition Analysis is used to evaluate differences in final age estimates (e.g. the wide grooves feature was scored as either presence or absence of billows, and influence of each score on age estimates was examined). The results of statistical tests suggest that physical anthropologists wisely make their decision on inclusion or exclusion of such features because scores of all the age-related features are closely interrelated to final age estimates.

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