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Keywords:

  • middle-ages;
  • Poland;
  • Giecz;
  • anatomical method;
  • regression

Abstract

Accurate stature estimation from skeletal remains can foster useful information on health and microevolutionary trends in past human populations. Stature can be estimated through the anatomical method and regression equations. The anatomical method (Fully: Ann Med Leg 36 [1956] 266–273; Raxter et al.: Am J Phys Anthropol 130 [2006] 374–384) is preferable because it takes into account total skeletal height and thus provides more accurate estimates, but it cannot be applied to incomplete remains. In such circumstances, regression equations allow estimates of living stature from the length of one or few skeletal elements. However, the accuracy of stature estimates from regression equations depends on similarity in body proportions between the population under examination and those used to calibrate the equations. Since genetic affinity and body proportions similarity are not always clearly known in bioarcheological populations, the criteria for selection of appropriate formulae are not always straightforward. This may lead to inaccurate stature estimates and imprecise accounts of past life conditions. Prompted by such practical and theoretical concerns this study aimed at (1) estimating living stature in an early medieval (XI-XII c.) Polish sample (40 male; 20 female) through the anatomical method and developing population-specific regression formulae; and (2) evaluating the accuracy of estimates obtained with regression methods commonly employed in European populations. Results indicate that when applied to the skeletal remains from Giecz, our formulae provide accurate estimates, with non-age-corrected formulae performing better than age-corrected ones. Our formulae provide better estimates than those calibrated on recent populations and their use in medieval Polish populations is preferable. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.