Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Randall Skelton

Commitee Members

Daniel Doyle, Richard Sattler


Computed tomography, CT, Dental Attrition, Lamendin, Lovejoy


University of Montana


An analysis of 81 contemporary adult human teeth was conducted in order to determine which of three methods best determines age at death. The teeth were loaned from the University of Tennessee body farm to the University of Michigan’s Biomedical Research Laboratory and were comprised of central incisors, lateral incisors and canines. Each tooth was of known age and most were also associated with sex and ancestry. Three observers used Lovejoy’s (1985) method of dental attrition, the Lamendin et al. (1992) periodontosis method and micro computed tomography to determine how accurately each method was able to assess the ages at death. Spearman’s rank correlation was performed in SPSS version 19 and linear regression analyses were conducted in Microsoft Excel. Categories for the analysis in SPSS were broken down based on age, sex, ancestry and tooth position in addition to conducting a broad analysis using all 81 samples. Overall computed tomography and the Lamendin et al. (1992) methods display the most statistically significant (p<.001) relationship when used to predict age. The pulp chamber volumes generated using computed tomography are slightly more highly correlated (-.781) with the actual ages than the Lamendin et al. (1992) method (.723). This correlation is negative which means that as the volume of the pulp chamber decreases as the age of the individual increases. The Lovejoy (1985) method displayed a statistically significant (p=.016) relationship with age but was only weakly correlated (.268). The linear regression analyses also suggest that computed tomography is the best of the three methods followed by the Lamendin et al. (1992) method and the Lovejoy (1985) method for predicting the actual age of an unknown contemporary tooth. The formula: y=67.835 – 1.267(pulp chamber volume) was formulated based on the results of the regression analysis. Based on the results of this analysis it is suggested that computed tomography be used to assess the ages at death of a modern human tooth sample when the needed resources are available.



© Copyright 2011 Kristina Galdes