Assessing Size and Strength of the Clavicle for its usefulness for Sex Estimation in a British Medieval Sample.

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Atterton, T ; Eliopoulos, C ; De Groote, IEPM

The construction of the biological profile from human skeletal remains is the foundation of anthropological examination. However, remains may be fragmentary and the elements usually employed, such as the pelvis and skull, are not available. The clavicle has been successfully used for sex estimation in samples from Iran and Greece. In the present study the aim was to test the suitability of the measurements used in those previous studies on a British Medieval population. In addition, the project tested whether discrimination between sexes was due to size or clavicular strength. The sample consisted of 23 females and 25 males of pre-determined sex from two medieval collections: Poulton and Gloucester. Six measurements were taken using an osteometric board, sliding callipers and graduate tape. In addition, putty rings and bi-planar radiographs were made and robusticity measures calculated. The resulting variables were used in stepwise discriminant analyses. The linear measurements allowed correct sex classification in 89.6% of all individuals. This demonstrates the applicability of the clavicle for sex estimation in British populations. The most powerful discriminant factor was maximum clavicular length and the best combination of factors was maximum clavicular length and circumference. This result is similar to that obtained by other studies. To further investigate the extent of sexual dimorphism of the clavicle, the biomechanical properties of the polar second moment of area J and the ratio of maximum to minimum bending rigidity are included in the analysis. These were found to have little influence when entered into the discriminant function analysis.
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