Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Randall Skelton

Commitee Members

Ashley McKeown, Dave Dyer


adult age estimation, forensic anthropology, acetabulum, forensic science


University of Montana


The purpose of this thesis is to test the accuracy of age estimation using the acetabulum. Methods for determining information from the os coxae are essential tools in archaeology and forensic anthropology. Variables from the ilium, ischium, and pubis have been used to determine sex and estimate age. Establishing a third area from the os coxa for estimating age would be important for multifactorial tests. The central portion of the pelvis, including the auricular surface of the ilium and the acetabulum, has a better rate of preservation than most of the skeleton, so the acetabular aging method would be applicable to fragmentary remains. Most of the literature on acetabular aging methods is based on Western European populations and exhibits good correlation between estimated age and known age at death. The aim of this study is to test recently developed Portuguese acetabular aging criteria (Rissech et al. 2006) on a contemporary American sample. This study tests the utility of the method using 574 adult specimens from the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection. Age estimation based on 95% confidence interval age ranges was hindered by the size of the age ranges. The age ranges from the test sample were too large to be precise and those from the test sample were too small to be accurate. Point age estimations derived from the average of the mean ages at death from the seven Rissech et al. (2006) method variables are not as accurate as the Bayesian estimation used in Rissech et al. (2006). The limitations of the Rissech et al. (2006) acetabular aging method keep it from being applied to samples outside of Western Europe. There will need to be further research into the morphology of acetabular degeneration and a revision of the method before acetabular aging estimation can achieve widespread application.

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