Comparison of Age Estimation

Date:  2021-04-26 07:30:00
4 pages  (1066 words)
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Harvey Mudd College
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This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Without the memory of when a person was born, it is possible to estimate the age of an individual when they are alive or even when they die through various techniques. The various methods of estimating the ages of people differ in that the methods used to estimate the ages of the living might not necessarily be applied in estimating the ages of the dead. There are two methods commonly used to estimate peoples age. To begin with, there is the maxillary suture obliteration which is used to estimate the age of people while living and the ectocranial suture closure that is used to estimate age upon death. This essay is aimed at describing the two methods of estimating age and ultimately comparing them.

Maxillary suture obliteration is one of the techniques used in estimating the age of individuals. This method is commonly used to estimate the age of living individuals as observed by Mann, Symes and Bass, (1987:148). The motivation behind this strategy was to build up a strategy for evaluating the age of an individual in light of the devastation of the four maxillary, palatal sutures. A specimen of one hundred and eighty-six people of known sex, race and age were analyzed. It was found that males of races, the white and black, show more suture pulverization than females at a similar age. Amid the early grown-up years, maxillary suture devastation advances at about a similar rate in both genders; because the time of old people might be significantly overestimated utilizing this technique. Mann, Symes and Bass, (1987:149) claim that despite the fact that this technique can't be utilized for accurate appraisals of own age, it is significant in setting up the age extent, sorting intermixed remains, and assessing skeletal age when just the maxilla is available.

Ectocranial suture closure is the other model used in estimating the age of an individual. This is another technique for estimation of age-at-death given the level of suture conclusion. The technique utilizes necessary ectocranial scoring of particular locales on the outside table as Meindl and Lovejoy, (1985:55) stated. Composite scores for two gatherings of sutures, parallel front and vault frameworks, which are utilized to give appraisals of age-at-death, have been created from a specimen of two hundred and thirty-six crania from the Hamann-Todd Collection. An assortment of tests demonstrates that the sidelong front sutures are better than the sutures of the vault, that ectocranial is better than endocranial perception, and that age appraisals are independent of race and sex. Meindl and Lovejoy, (1985:56) said that it is inferred that suture conclusion can give important appraisals of age-at-death in both archeological and criminological settings when utilized as a part of conjunction with other skeletal age markers.

Its important to note that the above two age estimation methods have both similarities and differences. One of the significant similarities between them is that in one way or another, both methods are used to estimate the ages of individuals irrespective of their conditions. Based on the observation of Mann, Symes and Bass, (1987:150), the first method, the maxillary suture obligation is however used to estimate the age of people while alive. It is an effective method that has been used to estimate the ages of sportsmen and other people. The method of age estimation is appropriate for use in estimating the ages of children who might not be certain of their ages. The ectocranial suture closure method, on the other hand, is also used to estimate age except that it is used in a different case as mentioned by Meindl and Lovejoy, (1985:62). It is commonly used to estimate the age of a person after he or she dies.

The two methods of estimating people's ages nevertheless have certain notable differences. One of the differences is that the maxillary suture obligation estimates the age for living individuals while ectocranial suture closure estimates age at death. The maxillary suture obliteration method is used to estimate the age of various people but only when alive (Mann, Symes and Bass, 1987:152). The method has been used in various fields within the economy in estimating the ages of various people. The age estimation for the living has significance to the local authorities and other institutions. The ectocranial suture closure is a method of estimating the ages of people after their death. There are cases where the ages of the deceased might be significant for instance in identifying or classifying them in the morgue in case their relatives are not certain of their age as mentioned by Meindl and Lovejoy, (1985:59). At this juncture, I would like to point out that the difference in the two age estimation methods is apparent as one is used to estimate the age of the dead and the other estimates the age of the living people.

Also worth mentioning is the difference that comes about as a result of the contents of estimation between the aforementioned methods of estimating age. The various factors and details contained within the age estimating techniques differ in many ways. One of the notable differences is that maxillary suture obliteration considers other aspects like race and gender as observed by Mann, Symes and Bass, (1987:156) while ectocranial suture closure has nothing to do with such factors. In estimating age through the maxillary suture obliteration, the race and gender factors determine the successful age estimation of an individual. Contrary to maxillary suture obliteration, the ectocranial suture closure is an age estimating technique where race and gender do not determine any situations as per the arguments of Meindl and Lovejoy, (1985:65).

In conclusion, age estimation can be done in two distinct ways. The age can be estimated when the person is alive or when they are dead. The two criteria discussed above for estimating ages have various similarities and differences as shown in the discussion. Notably, both maxillary suture obliteration and the ectocranial methods of estimating age while a person is alive and dead respectively have been proved as useful techniques in the society today. Maxillary suture obliteration is viewed as the best for age estimation because it takes into deep consideration both gender and race. Applying these factors makes estimation more accurate and trustworthy as this method focuses on the living.


Mann, Symes and Bass, 1987. Maxillary suture obliteration. Journal of forensic sciences 32(1); 148-157

Meindl and Lovejoy, 1985. Ectocranial suture closure: A revised method for the determination of skeletal age at death. American journal of physical anthropology (68); 57-66.


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