Accurate sexing methods are of great importance in forensic anthropology since sex assessment is among the principal tasks when examining human skeletal remains. The present study explores a novel approach in assessing the most accurate metric traits of the human cranium for sex estimation based on 80 ectocranial landmarks from 176 modern individuals of known age and sex from the Athens Collection. The purpose of the study is to identify those distance and angle measurements that can be most effectively used in sex assessment. Three-dimensional landmark coordinates were digitized with a Microscribe 3DX and analyzed in GNU Octave. An iterative linear discriminant analysis of all possible combinations of landmarks was performed for each unique set of the 3160 distances and 246,480 angles. Cross-validated correct classification as well as multivariate DFA on top performing variables reported 13 craniometric distances with over 85% classification accuracy, 7 angles over 78%, as well as certain multivariate combinations yielding over 95%. Linear regression of these variables with the centroid size was used to assess their relation to the size of the cranium. In contrast to the use of generalized procrustes analysis (GPA) and principal component analysis (PCA), which constitute the common analytical work flow for such data, our method, although computational intensive, produced easily applicable discriminant functions of high accuracy, while at the same time explored the maximum of cranial variability.
The present study tests the accuracy of commonly adopted ageing methods based on the morphology of the pubic symphysis, auricular surface and cranial sutures. These methods are examined both in their traditional form as well as in the context of transition analysis using the ADBOU software in a modern Greek documented collection consisting of 140 individuals who lived mainly in the second half of the twentieth century and come from cemeteries in the area of Athens. The auricular surface overall produced the most accurate age estimates in our material, with different methods based on this anatomical area showing varying degrees of success for different age groups. The pubic symphysis produced accurate results primarily for young adults and the same applied to cranial sutures but the latter appeared completely inappropriate for older individuals. The use of transition analysis through the ADBOU software provided less accurate results than the corresponding traditional ageing methods in our sample. Our results are in agreement with those obtained from validation studies based on material from across the world, but certain differences identified with other studies on Greek material highlight the importance of taking into account intra- and inter-population variability in age estimation.