Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Osteologists and forensic researchers are often called upon to determine age at death for skeletal remains. Although there are common methods in wide use, new methods are always sought. This study evaluates the accuracy of two radiographic methods of determining age by looking at the changes in the trabecular architecture of the proximal femur. These two methods are the Szilvassy and Kritscher (1990) method and the Walker and Lovejoy (1985) method. Samples were taken from four skeletal collections. Radiographs were taken of each individual and both Szilvassy and Kritscher’s (1990) phases of trabecular change and Walker and Lovejoy’s (1985) phases of trabecular change were applied. The Szilvassy and Kritscher (1990) standards yielded a higher percentage of accurate results than the Walker and Lovejoy (1985) standards. Neither method produced results that were accurate enough to be used reliably. The Szilvassy and Kritscher (1990) technique, however, proved more accurate than the Walker and Lovejoy (1985) technique. The low accuracy of the Walker and Lovejoy (1985) technique does not appear to be explained by factors such as race and sex. This method also assigned age categories that were greater than 20 years away from true age at death for more individuals than it assigned correct age categories. In contrast, this researcher found several trends in the accuracy of the Szilvassy and Kritscher (1990) method to different groups. This method tended to be more accurate when assigning ages to black individuals than white individuals. When separated on the basis of sex, the Szilvassy and Kritscher (1990) method assigned more accurate ages to females than to males. When age was taken into account, this method applied better to younger individuals than to older individuals. Thus, the Szilvassy and Kritcher (1990) method, with recalibration and new standards for separate groups, may become a useful technique for researchers.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mary H. Manhein