An Assessment of Aging Systems in Zooarchaeology




Martiskainen, Ellis

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The purpose of my internship was to acquaint myself with the methods that are used to determine the age-at-death of zooarchaeological finds, and to assess whether the systems that have been in use for the past fifty years are adequate. I studied the skeletal anatomy of mammals for some time. Then I did intensive reading of the literature regarding the aging of pigs, goats, sheep and cattle. I found that many aging systems have been based off of small populations of animals or unreliable data. In the future, more aging studies should be done on populations of known-age animals which are allowed to live their full lifespan. I also analyzed some data on goats found at the archaeological site of Çatalhöyük. I found that it is difficult to perfectly replicate aging done via Silver’s (1969) system without seeing bones in person, and noted some biases in which bones survive in the archaeological record.



Archaeology, zooarchaeology, aging, tooth wear, fusion, review, systems, animals, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, literature