Age-at-death-estimation in pathological individuals. A complementary approach using teeth cementum annulations

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Gwen Robbins Schug, Visiting Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Bioarchaeologists rely on accurate estimations of age-at-death. Clearly, some pathological conditions are associated with gross morphological changes in the skeleton that could impact the effectiveness of age-at-death estimation (i.e. methods based on the pelvis, fourth rib, dental attrition, and cranial stenosis). The magnitude of this problem has not been widely studied due to a paucity of pathological skeletons of known age. We assessed age-at death for three individuals affected by bone dysplasias (achondroplasia, residual rickets, osteogenesis imperfecta) using cementum annulations and several osseous age indicators. We predicted osseous indicators that are based on gross morphological changes would yield age estimates discrepant from the cementochronology. Results demonstrated considerable differences in age estimates between morphological and histological techniques suggesting a need for additional research on the effects of pathology on the accuracy of morphological methods. Conversely, we addressed the proposition that cementum annulations will be inappropriate for age estimation in cases of chronic and severe rhino-maxillary infection and periodontitis. We assessed age-at-death for one individual with leprosy and found no indication the disease process affected cementum formation or preservation. The results of this research indicate the potential value of cementochronology in cases where skeletal pathological conditions constrain the usefulness of traditional age estimation approaches.

Additional Information

International Journal of Paleopathology, 15, 120–127
Language: English
Date: 2016
Cementochronology, Age estimation, Leprosy, Achondroplasia, Residual rickets, Osteogenesis imperfecta

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