Age estimation from the os coxae in black South Africans

Pininski, Melissa
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The accurate estimation of age is considered important from an ethical, legal and archaeological perspective. Among the numerous methods based on macroscopic skeletal studies for age estimation, the Suchey-Brooks (1990) method for aging from the pubic symphysis and the Buckberry and Chamberlain (2002) method for aging from the auricular surface are considered more reliable. However, both these methods have been derived from American populations. In saying this, the following study aimed to evaluate whether it is possible to accurately estimate the age-at-death from morphological age-related changes seen on the pubic symphysis and the auricular surface in a black South African population. A total of 197 individuals of both sexes utilising both left and right os coxae were investigated. Age was estimated using descriptions stipulated by Brooks and Suchey (1990) and Buckberry and Chamberlain (2002). Both methods indicated moderate to high inter-and intra-observer errors. Descriptive statistics indicated a sample distribution of predominantly middle aged individuals. Correlation coefficients, inaccuracies and bias as well as Principal Components Analysis (PCA) were calculated for both skeletal elements for both sexes and sides. Statistical analyses indicated no significant differences between sexes and sides for both the pubic symphysis and the auricular surface. When comparing accuracies of each method, inaccuracies and bias were lower in the pubic symphysis than in the auricular surface thus making the pubic symphysis a more reliable age estimator. Similarly, males indicated lower inaccuracies and bias than did females. Principal Component Analysis indicated variance between certain features found on the pubic symphysis and the auricular surface. Overall, the pubic symphysis outperformed the auricular surface, even though the method described by Buckberry and Chamberlain (2002) is considered more reliable. Further investigation of these two methods on a white South African