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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Stevenson, Joan C.

Second Advisor

Mosher, M. J. (Anthropologist)

Third Advisor

Campbell, Sarah K.


The accurate assessment of age-at-death from skeletal remains is a key factor in both forensic anthropology and bioarchaeology. Several methods of determining age at death are currently employed that utilize the age specific changes of several anatomical regions of the skeleton. However, as skeletal remains are often incomplete, it is useful to develop new methods based on previously unevaluated anatomy. This makes it more likely that sets of incomplete skeletal remains may include some feature that can be used to determine age-at-death. DiGangi et al. (2009) proposed that three anatomical regions of the first rib demonstrate age-correlated changes that can be used in this manner. Their research incorporated 470 male individuals of Balkan ancestry recovered from a mass gravesite in Kosovo. The exclusion of female individuals thus raises the question of the reliability of their method when applied to both sexes. This thesis attempted to validate DiGangi and colleagues' method by applying it to a set of female remains. The first ribs of 190 adult female skeletons from the William Bass Forensic Skeletal Collection at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville were evaluated and scored using the method proposed in the original publication. The results of this research indicate that the Rib 1 aging method proposed by DiGangi and colleagues does not adequately assess age-at-death in female skeletal remains. There is a high degree of variation in the timing of morphological changes in the first rib with respect to age. The suggested reasons for this variation include a high degree of subjectivity within the method, as well as the existence of significant biological variation between both sexes, as well as between populations of different ancestry. Future research in these areas is necessary to further our understanding of the methods of change in Rib 1 morphology, as well as to possibly remedy the sources of error in the utilization of the first rib in the assessment of age at death.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Human remains (Archaeology)--Age determination; Ribs--Age determination; Ribs--Analysis; Skeletal maturity




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

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