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Estimating the age structure of a buried adult population: A new statistical approach applied to archaeological digs in France

Authors

  • Isabelle Séguy,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institut national d'études démographiques (INED), Paris, France
    2. Cultures et environnements-Préhistoire-Antiquité-Moyen Âge (CEPAM, UMR 7264, Université de Nice-Sophia-Antipolis-CNRS), Nice, France
    • INED (Institut national d'études démographiques), 133 Boulevard Davout, 75980 Paris Cedex 20, France
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  • Henri Caussinus,

    1. Institut de Mathématiques, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France
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  • Daniel Courgeau,

    1. Institut national d'études démographiques (INED), Paris, France
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  • Luc Buchet

    1. Institut national d'études démographiques (INED), Paris, France
    2. Cultures et environnements-Préhistoire-Antiquité-Moyen Âge (CEPAM, UMR 7264, Université de Nice-Sophia-Antipolis-CNRS), Nice, France
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Abstract

Paleodemographers have developed several methods for estimating the age structure of historical populations in absence of civil registration data. Starting from biological indicators alone, they use a reference population of known sex and age to assess the conditional distribution of the biological indicator given age. However, the small amount of data available and the unstable nature of the related statistical problem mean that most methods are disappointing. Using the most reliable reference data possible, we propose a simple statistical method, integrating the maximum amount of information included in the actual data, which quite significantly improves age estimates for a buried population. Here the method is applied to a French cemetery used from Late Antiquity to the end of the Early Middle Ages. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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