Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Estimation of age is an important component of the biological profile that forensic anthropologists construct in order to attain a positive identification of a deceased individual. This research is a proof of concept study for the use of X-ray diffraction (XRD) on a tooth sample to estimate age. Previous research (Meneghini et al. 2003; Hanschin and Stern 1992) has concluded that the crystallite size of bone will increase with increased age. The feasibility of the use of teeth in XRD analysis was first tested using pig teeth (samples P1, P2, and P3). Another set of pig teeth (PC1, PC2, and PC3) were analyzed to determine if there were differences in tooth type for a single individual. Tooth samples were collected from individuals of known age in order to establish whether the crystallite size of hydroxylapatite changes with increased chronological age. All samples were cleaned and prepared using the same set of procedures. The resulting diffraction patterns from the XRD testing were analyzed using Jade 6 software to determine the full width half maximum (FWHM) for each of the samples. The crystallite size was then calculated using Scherrer’s formula. The first set of pig samples proved that it was possible to analyze teeth with XRD. The second set of samples demonstrated that there were crystallite size differences in the tooth types. The human teeth confirmed that there were differences in tooth type and presented evidence that there was a downward correlation between chronological age and crystallite size in teeth. Due to the rejection of the initial hypothesis, an alternative hypothesis was constructed stating that the crystallite size of the hydroxylapatite will decrease in teeth as age increases in an individual. Results of this research suggest the trend toward a decrease in crystallite size as an individual increases in age.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mary H Manhein