Thanks for your reply.
I can't imagine osteoarchaeologists claiming 100% accuracy. In fact, 94%
accuracy based on pelvis alone surprises me, given that pelves are
sometimes not clearly one or the other. The human remains team I've
worked with has five categories, female, probably female, "can't be sure
one way or the other", probably male, male.
But I haven't had the good fortune to work with them for five years.
Maybe things have changed. And of course, many of those skeletons are
incomplete. For my own research on dental sexual dimorphism, I tried to
use samples that had been securely sexed using both pelvis and cranium.
It's awkward when you get a probably male pelvis with a very gracile skull!
On 22-Mar-2016 5:44 AM, Nick.Thorpe wrote:
> Hi Eve,
> Hilary Cool is a finds specialist. The maximum accuracy figure I have seen quoted for sexing using the pelvis is 94% (based on known sex modern historical samples). I don't believe any osteoarchaeologists claim it is possible to achieve 100% accuracy,
> -----Original Message-----
> From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Eve Richardson
> Sent: 21 March 2016 22:43
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Catterick Gallus was: [BRITARCH] Exploring our Anglo-Saxon ancestry
> Thanks for this, David.
> Pity the detailed analysis isn't available. I don't know anything about Hilary Cool (my bad), but as far as I know, Simon Mays is one of THE archeo-osteologists in Britain, or am I mistaken?
> While it's true that there is a spectrum of certainty-uncertainty in analysis of sex, those at either end of the spectrum are pretty clear.
> If both the pelves and the cranium fall within one or the other, as well as measurements of femoral thickness, then the sex is pretty clear. (And if you're really lucky, you may get to cross-check using dental
> The two pebbles in the mouth would seem to fit with the idea of a man who has removed his stones. I wonder if there are parallels elsewhere?
> Certainly an interesting burial, whatever the case!
> (Btw, I'm not a professional archaeologist or osteologist. But I've spent some seasons volunteering on an A-S cemetery and doing research on the excavated skeletons, including a project on dental sexual dimorphism. )
> On 21-Mar-2016 11:13 AM, PETTS D.A. wrote:
>> I thought it might be useful to point people to the initial
>> publication of this burial
>> Context of the burial (Grave 951 - Burial 952) pp.176-778
>> The detailed analysis of the bones by Simon Mays are not available on-line nor is Hilary Cool's initial discussion where she first suggested a "Gallus"
>> However, there is a briefer discussion by Hilary Cool in a back issue
>> of Lucerna (p.17ff) that can found here (which also mentions the
>> hostile reaction to the suggestion, including by subscribers to this
>> list) file:///C:/Users/David/Downloads/Lucerna+24+July+2002.pdf
>> Personally, I have no particular problem with a gallus (or similar devotional transvestite) being found in Northern Britain- with its high level of military garrison, it was always a relatively cosmopolitan area with a wide range of varying cult activity including local traditions, western Roman/Gaulish rites, Imperial cult and orientalising mystery cults.
>> BUT the question as to whether THIS particular grave is a gallus is a different matter. As has been noted several times, identifying the biological sex of a skeleton is not an exact science. and it is difficult to be 100% accurate - it is possible that this is simply a case of misidentification (although something that DNA analysis would clear up) - although it is worth noting that this burial was identified as male by two separate osteologists.
>> Even if female though, it is an interesting grave- although often found in mortuary contexts, the quantity of jet seems unusual (although given that we are in North Yorkshire and not that far from Whitby, a profusion of jet need not be particularly out of place). However, the two stones placed in the mouth of the inhumation are perhaps more unusual- as is the wearing of an anklet (uncommon in both male and female graves of this date).
>> Personally, I'd say 'not proven' - but an interesting grave- and as
>> the bone preservation is good, the question of the biological sex of
>> the individual is potentially resolvable
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