Kufterin V.V., Sataev R.M., Dubova N.A.

Taphonomic bias in preservation and representativeness of skeletal samples (a case of Gonur Depe)

The topic of this article is theoretical and practical issues underlying the problems of representativeness of skeletal samples, as well as age and sex biases in preservation of skeletal remains, and the impact of these factors on paleodemographic reconstructions. The impact of taphonomic bias in preservation on the qualitative and quantitative composition of skeletal sample is discussed on the materials from Gonur Depe a Bronze Age proto-urban center in Southern Turkmenistan (25001500 BC, BMAC Bactria-Margiana archaeological complex, also referred to as Oxus Civilization). The analyzed sample consists of skeletal remains of 500 individuals (215 non-adults, 115 adult males and 170 adult females) excavated between 2008 and 2015. Based on the type of preservation of skeletal remains, their completeness, as well as the preservation index (computed for each individual by dividing the number of long bones present by 14 their maximum number per individual), three preservation classes were identified, of which class 1 corresponds to poor, and class 3 to good state of preservation. Comparison of sex and age groups per each preservation class using hi-square test demonstrates that in the Gonur Depe skeletal remains of infants (04 years old) and young adults (under 35 years of age) show the best state of preservation. Skeletons of elderly adults (over 35 years of age) have the worst state of preservation. There are no statistically significant differences between sexes in the degree of bone preservation. On the one hand, these results, contrary to theoretical expectations, testify against the existence of taphonomic biases in preservation of infant and female skeletons. On the other hand, the underrepresentation of elderly individuals in the studied collection is probably explained by a decrease in resistance to taphonomic processes due to the accelerated loss of bone calcium. It has been concluded that age and sex-related biases in the demographic structure of prehistoric skeletal samples cannot be universally explained by the preservation factor. Misrepresentation in the percentage of different age and sex groups is a non-linear and a complicated process that requires consideration of different factors affecting the qualitative and quantitative composition of a particular skeletal sample. A detailed assessment of the taphonomic characteristics of a studied skeletal collection should be a mandatory step prior to its analysis by paleodemographic methods.

Keywords: paleodemography, taphonomy, skeletal samples, Bronze Age, Turkmenistan.


Permiakova .Yu., Negasheva .., Zimina S.N., Khafizova .., Iudina .., Sineva I..

On the problem of intersystem correlations in modern anthropology: the relationship between the somatic and hormonal indicators in Moscow youth

The work is dedicated to the study of the joint variability of somatic characteristics and level of sex hormones (estradiol and testosterone), as well as to the assessment of anthropometric indicators and steroid profile in Moscow students. The material of the study is represented by comprehensive anthropological survey of 152 people (1822 year old): 122 females (average age 19.9 years) and 30 males (average age 20.2 years) of Moscow higher educational institutions. The analysis included data from respondents of Russian nationality permanently residing in Moscow and nearest Moscow region. The examination program included the measurement of total body sizes, the assessment of body composition, BMI, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), sexual dimorphism index (by Tanner); indicators of the relative value of body components were calculated as well. In addition, the hormonal profile of the participants was obtained (total testosterone and total estradiol levels in blood serum), on the basis of which the estradiol-testosterone ratio (E/T) was calculated. The analysis of morphophysiological characteristics of modern Moscow young people revealed the presence of reliable correlations (r = 0.20.3) between hormonal production and soma parameters only in girls: estradiol is negatively associated with waist circumference and positively with the proportion of active cell mass (a direct relationship with it was also found in the E/T ratio). The level of testosterone secretion is positively associated with the value of the sexual dimorphism index. The results of factor analysis reveal a consistent variability in the levels of sex steroids with morphological parameters: estradiol is associated with indicators of obesity, and testosterone with the proportion of musculoskeletal mass and the value of sexual dimorphism. The revealed features of the shared variation of morphophysiological signs are characteristic for both sexes, which indicates their stability and biological regularity. Increased testosterone secretion was recorded for 15.6 % of female students. The average values of morphological indicators in this group significantly differ from individuals with normal hormone secretion towards the increasing andromorphism of the physique (due to an increase in the proportion of musculoskeletal mass and the value of sexual dimorphism index). It can be assumed that these results indicate an increased stress load within the metropolitan region.

Keywords: morphology, total body size, body composition, steroid hormones, Moscow youth.