Brief communication: A proposed osteological method for the estimation of pubertal stage in human skeletal remains


Correspondence to: Fiona Shapland, Department of Archaeology, School of Human and Environmental Studies, University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AB, UK. E-mail:


Puberty forms an important threshold between childhood and adulthood, but this subject has received little attention in bioarchaeology. The new application of clinical methods to assess pubertal stage in adolescent skeletal remains is explored, concentrating on the development of the mandibular canine, hamate, hand phalanges, iliac crest and distal radius. Initial results from the medieval cemetery of St. Peter's Church, Barton-upon-Humber, England suggest that application of these methods may provide insights into aspects of adolescent development. This analysis indicates that adolescents from this medieval site were entering the pubertal growth spurt at a similar age to their modern counterparts, but that the later stages of pubertal maturation were being significantly delayed, perhaps due to environmental stress. Continued testing and refinement of these methods on living adolescents is still necessary to improve our understanding of their significance and accuracy in predicting pubertal stages. Am J Phys Anthropol 151:302–310, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.