Prompt: I've often wondered how archaeologists determine the sex of a skeleton - I know there are differences in the pelvis, but what else is taken to be a clue? I'm also curious about how accurate it is, and whether anyone's done any studies on that.
I'm afraid I'm focusing more on the general methods used than specific studies - I'm not the only one tackling this prompt so hopefully you'll get a different range of information from the other answer! Basically all my books are in the wrong country & I lack journal subscriptions, so I can't pull up as many specific figures and examples as I'd like for accuracy. But here is the as lay as possible guide to the kinds of techniques that get used in determining the sex of human remains in archaeology.
As a note before we start, I'm also one of those people who dislikes overemphasising sexual difference and I do see this whole thing as a sliding scale rather than a choice between two boxes. I do not automatically connect sex with gender either. That's the perspective I work from, though it's by no means shared by all archaeologists!
There are three things that are often used to determine the sex of skeletons, although they're of variable use and appropriateness. All of these have problems, although number two is the really what were you thinking
option. More on this later! The methods are:
1. Looking at the bones
2. Looking at the grave goods
3. DNA testing1. Looking at the bones( Read more... )2. Looking at the grave goods( Read more... )3. DNA testing( Read more... )
Ta-da! I do hope that was at least somewhat helpful.