Archaeological rib samples were subjected to quantitative histologic analysis to determine rates of cortical bone formation. Histologic features are usually well enough preserved to permit the determination of mean annual Haversian bone formation rate averaged over the life span of the individual. Moreover, gross estimates of aging archaeological bone correlate well with histologic parameters expected for particular ages. Age-associated changes in bone histomorphology in extinct populations have remained essentially unchanged for at least 1,600 years. Bone formation rates determined for these populations agree with age-matched values determined for extant Homo sapiens. A relatively high frequency of pathologic conditions reported by others for the Ledders population may be reflected by the wide range of histomorphometric parameters present in the ribs of these individuals. On the basis of morphophysiologic relationships in extant populations, it can be assumed that mean annual osteonal creation frequency, and mean annual Haversian bone formation rate can be reliably determined in extinct populations. To our knowledge, this is the first time a dynamic physiologic parameter has been measured in an extinct pupulation of H. sapiens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-169
Number of pages7
JournalCalcified Tissue Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 1976


  • Archaeology
  • Bone turnover
  • Histology


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