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SHARP Human Remains Team present at the BABAO conference

Lucy Koster of the SHARP Human Remains team presenting at the BABAO conference

In September 2023, Lucy Koster presented research undertaken by the SHARP Human Remains Team and volunteers at the 24th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), held at UCL in London.

Lucy gave a podium presentation titled ‘Sex estimation of early medieval sub-adult skeletons from Sedgeford, Norfolk using tooth measurements’, which presented the results of a project on how measurements of adult canine teeth can be used to determine the sex of individuals where this is not possible through standard osteological analysis. This research was supervised by Martin Hatton and Sophie Beckett, with Eve Richardson as the initial primary researcher. It has subsequently become a larger collaborative project, with the involvement of Lucy and Ron Todd to collect more data.

This study looked at sub-adults (juveniles), where the body had not finished growing and so sexual dimorphism is not yet present in the pelvis and skull. The method can also be applied to adults where the key skeletal markers are not present due to preservation, or where the markers are ambiguous. In the skeletons from the early medieval cemetery at Sedgeford, measurements of the canines showed a high degree of sexual dimorphism. Using a sectioning line created from these measurements, the sex of 7/8 non-adult individuals measured was estimated. Subsequent ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis on five of these individuals confirmed the sex estimations made using this method to be correct. This is incredibly helpful as many of the skeletons from the cemetery at Sedgeford have been disturbed and disarticulated, and so don’t always have the necessary bones present for standard osteological sex estimation.

Lucy was able to get valuable feedback on this research from the wider osteological community from both the UK and further afield, as well as sharing the valuable research we have been doing with our volunteers at SHARP. She was also able to dedicate the presentation to the memory of Martin Hatton, the beloved lead supervisor of the Human Remains Team who sadly passed away shortly before the conference. Sharing memories of Martin and the SHARP project with former SHARPies who were in attendance made it especially poignant. 

The Human Remains Team and some of the volunteers involved in the study are now working on putting together a publication based on this research.


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