An Integrated Approach to Adult Skeletal Age Estimation and Paleodemographic Reconstruction: Going From Bones to Individual Ages and Mortality Patterns

To register for this workshop click here. The registration deadline is March 15, 2019.

An Integrated Approach to Adult Skeletal Age Estimation and Paleodemographic Reconstruction: Going From Bones to Individual Ages and Mortality Patterns. Day/Time: Wed, March 27, all day (9AM-4PM with a lunch break 12PM-1PM); Description: A new skeletal age-estimation method, based on many skeletal traits and over 1,700 known-age skeletons, is introduced that yields accurate and unbiased estimates throughout adulthood for paleodemographic research and forensic investigations. Organizers: George R. Milner, Penn State U (, Jesper L. Boldsen, University of Southern Denmark (, Stephen D. Ousley, Mercyhurst University (, Sara M. Getz, Idaho State University (, Svenja Weise, University of Southern Denmark (, Jutta Gampe, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research ( Pre-registration Required

Description: New procedures are introduced for estimating the age of individual adult skeletons and using those estimates to generate age-at-death distributions for archaeological cemetery samples.  The skeletal age-estimation procedure, developed from over 1,700 known-age individuals from four continents, uses dozens of bony features distributed throughout the skeleton to obtain estimates of age throughout all of adulthood.  Most of these features will be unfamiliar to bioarchaeologists who usually rely heavily on the pelvic joints, cranial sutures, and sternal rib ends, all of which have been previously shown to be of limited utility for age estimation. 

Ages can be estimated for incomplete skeletons, which accommodates the poor preservation typical of archaeological and medicolegal contexts.  Age estimates for individual skeletons based on many different skeletal characteristics are far more accurate and precise than those produced by existing age-estimation procedures, including all those in frequent use. 

Session participants will see why attention must shift from a few anatomical structures to many traits distributed throughout the skeleton to improve age estimation; will be introduced to the analytical approach needed to make the best use of those age-informative traits; and will learn how to apply the procedure when examining skeletons from archaeological and medicolegal contexts.  The next step involves using the age estimates for individual skeletons, each of which is associated with an age interval reflecting uncertainty in the estimate, to approximate the mortality patterns of past populations.  As illustrated through the use of experience-based age estimates, this new procedure captures known age-at-death patterns for several different populations.  Taken together, the two procedures — one focusing on individual skeletons and the other on samples of skeletons — yield age-at-death distributions that will permit, for the first time, investigations of change over time in mortality patterns and adult life expectancy.

Audience: Anyone interested in bioarchaeology and/or forensics.