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Keywords:

  • age determination;
  • osteology;
  • dental anthropology;
  • histology;
  • taphonomy;
  • tooth cementum annulations

Abstract

The use of tooth cementum annulations for age determination has been deemed promising, exhibiting high correlations with chronological age. Despite its apparent potential, to date, the tooth cementum annulations method has been used rarely for estimating ages in archaeological populations. Here we examine the readability of cementum annulations and the consistency of age estimates using a sample of 116 adults from the Iron Gates Gorge Mesolithic/Neolithic series. Our examination of the method pointed to several sources of error that call into question the use of this method for estimating the chronological ages of archaeologically derived dental samples. The poor performance of the method in our analysis might be explained by taphonomic influences, including the effect of chemical and biological agents on dental microstructures. Am J Phys Anthropol 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.