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Session no. 1, 2011: Estimating Life Expectancy in Archaeological Populations, by


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  • 1. Estimating Life Expectancy in Archaeological Populations Palaeodemography And Palaeoepidemiology Joseph R. Krecioch Cave & Necropolis Session 1 2011
  • 2. Demography
    • • “ the study of population statistics” (White and Folkens 2005)
    • (mortality and birth rates; population size, growth, and density; life expectancy, etc)
    • • Palaeodemography: “vital statistics of past populations” (Brothwell 1981)
  • 3. Epidemiology
    • “ concerned with the distribution of disease and death, and with their determinants and consequences in population groups” (Omran 1971)
    • Palaeoepidemiology not only attempts to describe disease and mortality in prehistoric populations, but also informs future trends. Depends upon osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology.
  • 4. Estimating Life Expectancy
    • Even in modern populations, LE is fraught with inconsistencies and uncertainties.
    • High infant mortality significantly reduces life expectancy, so LE changes according to age
    • Famines, wars, epidemics also contribute to misleading LEs
    • If LE is ’38’, it doesn’t mean 19 year-olds were ‘middle-aged’
  • 5. LE in Archaeology
    • Age estimation of human remains would ideally provide LE of a population.
    • Age estimation has been thought unreliable for ages above 50 or 60 years
    • Archaeological sample or site does not imply a once living ‘community’ or population
  • 6. Methods
    • First, determine ages osteologically
    • Drop individuals under 20-23yo
    • Apply statistics: Bayesian methods
    • Newer statistical methods give different LEs
  • 7. Ageing Skeletal Remains
    • Until Old Adult stage, ageing is based upon generation; after Adult stage, bone degeneration gives clues to age.
    • Most important for older age estimation is the pubic symphysis and auricular surfaces
    • (Lovejoy et al 1985; Buckberry and Chamberlain 2002)
  • 8.  
  • 9. Auricular Surface
    • Surface Texture
        • Fine
        • Coarse
        • Dense
    • Microporosity
        • Surface pores <1mm
    • Macroporosity
        • Surface pores >1mm
    • Apical Changes
        • lipping
  • 10. Storey’s comparison of Statistical methods
  • 11. Epidemiological Transitions
        • Post-Neolithic: Agriculture and Sedentarism
          • Big drop from Mesolithic to Neolithic
          • Large increase Neolithic to Copper Age
          • Smaller increases Copper to Bronze/Iron
        • European Industrialization and urbanization
          • 17 th to 18 th Centuries: Drastic declines in LE
  • 12. Transitions in the Balearics
    • Pre-Talaiotic
      • Epipalaeolithic
      • Chalcolithic
    • Talaiotic
    • Roman
    • Pre-Arab Transition
    • Arab…
  • 13. Further Reading
    • Gage, Timothy (2005) Are Modern Environments Really Bad for Us? : Revisiting the Demographic and Epidemiologic Transitions. AJPA 48:96-117
    • Konigsberg ande Frankenberg (2002) Deconstructing Death in Palaeodemography. AJPA 117:297-309
    • Roksandic and Armstrong (2011), Using the Life History Model to Set the Stage(s) of Growth and Senescence in Bioarchaeology and Paleodemography. AJPA (online Perspective)