Bridget Algee-Hewitt

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 9690

Approve Date

October 5, 2018

Project Title

Algee-Hewitt, Dr. Bridget, F.B., Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Age-at-death in the Philippines: Integrating Skeletal Morphology, Life-History and New Methodologies to Improve Age Estimation.

Preliminary abstract: Adult age-at-death is one of the most important and still most challenging of the parameters of individual identity for use in both the forensic and bioarcheological contexts. While there have been considerable methodological advances in how chronological age information is inferred from the morphological expression of physiological age using a growing number of degenerative, or age-progressive, traits in the skeleton, the current discourse in biological anthropology has yet to adopt a more holistic approach to the study of skeletal aging: one that not only considers the effects of methodological and sampling choices on the practice of age estimation but also accounts for the many life-history factors that contribute to the observed variation, within individuals and among populations, in the senescence process. In this project, we adopt a multi-component approach to age-at-death estimation, using a new and previously unstudied cemetery sample of modern Filipinos. We have four major objectives: (1) Compare the rates and patterns of aging in the Philippines to those of other Asian and American populations to determine the need for population- and sex-specific methods. (2) Identify which life-history factors affect the reliability of age estimation and develop new Bayesian statistical models that account for these effects. (3) Quantify and compare error rates in age estimates among a series of aging methods, including both traditional and advanced visual-scoring-based methods, new probabilistic approaches to age estimation that are applicable to the conventional categorical trait scores, and an emerging, fully-computational framework for 3D data collection, shape analysis, and age prediction. (4) Provide recommendations for age estimation in forensic casework for individuals of presumed Filipino identity and for the paleodemographic reconstruction of mortality profiles in the Philippines.