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Bovine Teeth in Age Assessment, from Medieval Cattle to Belgian Blue: Methodology, Possibilities and Limitations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Section for Osteoarchaeology.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of the present thesis was to develop and characterise an age assessment method based on incremental lines in dental cementum using contemporary bovine teeth and teeth from archaeological faunal assemblages. The investigations also included two other age assessment methods: tooth wear pattern and macroscopic dental measurements. The first permanent mandibular molar and lower jaws from 70 contemporary cattle of known age and 170 archaeological molar sets from ten different Swedish archaeological sites were used. The following conclusions were drawn:

• The number of incremental lines in the dental cementum varied between different parts of the tooth root as well as within one and the same individual. The results from contemporary cattle of known age showed a strong relationship between age and incremental lines in the cementum of the distal part of the mesial root (R2=65.5%) and the known ages of the animals.

• With the “best” model variation in age could be explained to 65.5% (R2) by the number of incremental lines. Thus, the remaining age variation (approximately 35%) could not be explained by these lines. Other factors than must thus be responsible. However, with the exception of calves born the present material did not reveal any such significant relationship.

• The results from cattle of known age indicate that the method of assessing age on the basis of cemental incremental lines is more reliable than other methods such as tooth wear or tooth measurements. However, by combining counting incremental lines and one variable assessing tooth dimension (tooth height) a slightly stronger relationship could be obtained (R2=74.5%). The results from age assessment of the medieval and post-Reformation cattle emphasize the importance of supplementing any age estimation of archaeological assemblages based on dental indicators with characteristics for the particular assessment model. Furthermore, conclusions based on age assessment with such models can not be drawn with any more detailed time scale than about 2 years leaving at best only 25% (R2) of factors influencing the dental indicator(s) utilized in the model unexplained. The accuracy of the age assessment required by the particular historical context in which the archaeological remains are found should thus decide what level of accuracy should be chosen.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur , 2004. , 178 p.
Theses and papers in osteoarchaeology, ISSN 1652-4098 ; 1
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-162ISBN: 91-628-6091-7OAI: diva2:190332
Public defence
2004-06-04, Reinholdsalen, Juristernas hus, Frescativägen 18, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2004-05-13 Created: 2004-05-13Bibliographically approved

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