Evaluating macroscopic sex estimation methods using genetically sexed archaeological material: The medieval skeletal collection from St John's Divinity School, Cambridge.
Wohns, Anthony Wilder
Am J Phys Anthropol
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Inskip, S., Scheib, C., Wohns, A. W., Ge, X., Kivisild, T., & Robb, J. (2019). Evaluating macroscopic sex estimation methods using genetically sexed archaeological material: The medieval skeletal collection from St John's Divinity School, Cambridge.. Am J Phys Anthropol, 168 (2), 340-351. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23753
OBJECTIVES: In tests on known individuals macroscopic sex estimation has between 70% and 98% accuracy. However, materials used to create and test these methods are overwhelming modern. As sexual dimorphism is dependent on multiple factors, it is unclear whether macroscopic methods have similar success on earlier materials, which differ in lifestyle and nutrition. This research aims to assess the accuracy of commonly used traits by comparing macroscopic sex estimates to genetic sex in medieval English material. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty-six individuals from the 13th to 16th century Hospital of St John the Evangelist, Cambridge, were assessed. Genetic sex was determined using a shotgun approach. Eighteen skeletal traits were examined, and macroscopic sex estimates were derived from the os coxae, skull, and os coxae and skull combined. Each trait was tested for accuracy to explore sex estimates errors. RESULTS: The combined estimate (97.7%) outperformed the os coxae only estimate (95.7%), which outperformed the skull only estimate (90.4%). Accuracy rates for individual traits varied: Phenice traits were most accurate, whereas supraorbital margins, frontal bossing, and gonial flaring were least accurate. The preauricular sulcus and arc compose showed a bias in accuracy between sexes. DISCUSSION: Macroscopic sex estimates are accurate when applied to medieval material from Cambridge. However, low trait accuracy rates may relate to differences in dimorphism between the method derivative sample and the St John's collection. Given the sex bias, the preauricular sulcus, frontal bossing, and arc compose should be reconsidered as appropriate traits for sex estimation for this group.
Pelvic Bones, Skull, Humans, Archaeology, Anthropology, Physical, History, Medieval, History, 15th Century, History, 16th Century, Adolescent, Adult, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Sex Determination by Skeleton, Young Adult, Genetic Testing
St John's College, Cambridge
Wellcome Trust (200368/Z/15/Z)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23753
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/287592
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/