Sex Assessment Using the Femur and Tibia in Medieval Skeletal Remains from Ireland: Discriminant Function Analysis

Mario Novak


Sex determination based on discriminant function analysis of skeletal measurements is probably the most effective method for assessment of sex in archaeological and contemporary populations due to various reasons, but it also suffers from limitations such as population specificity. In this paper standards for sex assessment from the femur and tibia in the medieval Irish population are presented. Six femoral and six tibial measurements obtained from 56 male and 45 female skeletons were subjected to discriminant function analysis. Average accuracies obtained by this study range between 87.1 and 97%. The highest level of accuracy (97%) was achieved when using combined variables of the femur and tibia (maximum diameter of femoral head and circumference at tibial nutrient foramen), as well as two variables of the tibia (proximal epiphyseal breadth and circumference at nutrient foramen). Discriminant functions using a single variable provided accuracies between 87.1 and 96% with the circumference at the level of the tibial nutrient foramen providing the best separation. High accuracy rates obtained by this research correspond to the data recorded in other studies thus confirming the importance of discriminant function analysis in assessment of sex in both archaeological and forensic contexts.  


sexual dimorphism; discriminant function analysis; skeletal remains; femur and tibia; archaeological population; Ireland

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