Semester of Graduation

Spring 2022


Master of Arts (MA)


Department Of Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Research suggests that musculoskeletal markers (MSMs) can provide information about the lives of deceased individuals. The majority of studies focus on single factors that influence the morphology of MSMs in pre-modern societies (i.e., medieval, hunter-gatherers, preindustrial, etc.). This study analyzes MSMs of modern skeletons of 72 females and 83 males from the United States whose ages at death range from 30 to 89 to understand the relationship between various biological factors and MSM morphology. Eight MSMs (attachments of pectoralis major, deltoid, brachialis, supinator, iliopsoas, gluteus maximus, quadriceps, and soleus) were analyzed and categorized as phases zero, one, two, or three depending on the degree of robusticity, with phase zero showing no robusticity and phase three being the most robust. Odds ratio estimates, chi square tests, & Mann-Whitney U tests were used to assess the relationship of the MSMs with age, sex, and estimated body mass. Results show that four of the eight MSMs have significant relationships with estimated body mass and/or age: the deltoid, brachialis, iliopsoas, and quadriceps tendon. Interestingly, four MSMs, the left quadriceps tendon, the right pectoralis major, the right gluteus maximus, and the right soleus show a significant relationship between sex and MSM robusticity. The results for the relationship between sex and MSM robusticity were not able to show specifically whether males or females were more likely to have more robust MSMs.

Committee Chair

Tague, Robert