A method for estimating age of Danish medieval sub-adults based on long bone length
Primeau, Charlotte; Friis, Laila; Sejrsen, Birgitte; Lynnerup, Niels
The preferred method for aging archaeological sub-adult skeletons is by dental examination. In cases where no dental records are available, age estimation may be performed according to epiphyseal union, skeletal elements or diaphyseal lengths. Currently no data have been produced specifically for aging archaeological Danish sub-adults from the medieval period based on diaphyseal lengths. The problem with using data on Danish samples, which have been derived from a different population, is the possibility of skewing age estimates. In this study 58 Danish archaeological sub-adults were examined, aged from approximately six years to twenty-one years. The samples were aged according to two dental methods: Haavikko and Ubelaker. Regression formulae were constructed for aging according to their diaphyseal lengths both for individual long bones and combinations of upper and lower long bones. This study indicated that with the regression formulae developed, estimation of age can be done with reasonable results on Danish sub-adults. The Danish data were then compared to data from a different archaeological sample and a modern sample. It showed that the modern data indicated a consistently lower age compared to this sample which increased until reaching a maximum of nearly five years and six months. When comparing the archaeological data to this study, the growth profile crossed over at 12.5 years with a maximum age difference before the cross point of two years and three months lower for the archaeological data. After the cross point there was a maximum difference of three years and four months higher for the archaeological data. This study has shown the importance of using data for age estimation for archaeological material which has been developed specifically for that population. In addition it has presented a possible solution for Danish sub-adult material when dental material is not available.