Variation in rates of age-related change in skeletal tissue in a Romano-British population
1228 skeletons from the Romano-British cemetery at Poundbury have been used to compare methods of assessment of age at death on archaeological material. The main aim was to evaluate the potential use of methods based on cortical bone structure and of the occurrence of degenerative joint disease in the spine. Changes in cortical bone do not proceed linearly with age, so methods currently available, which are based of single regression equations, are inadequate. The measures of bone structure are found to be useful in conjunction with other methods in terms of calibration. The expectations of greater variation in bone structure measurements amongst males was not observed. In the case of cortical thickness exactly the reverse is found. Possible explanations are discussed. Degenerative joint disease of the spine offers a promising means of age assessment as it is found to increase in incidence, severity and extent with age. Males show a faster rate of deg,3neration than females particularly in extent. The best measure indicated is the combined number of facet and disc joints affected in the lumbar region.