Examining Statistical Differences Between Standard Osteological Measurements Taken in Situ versus a Laboratory Setting: Preliminary Results

Society for American Archaeology Conference, Hawaii, 2013
Johanna Kelly, M.Sc., Crystal Forrest, PhD, and Alexis Dunlop, M.Sc.

Legislative parameters governing bioarchaeological projects undertaken by cultural resource management (CRM) companies often dictate the type of analysis conducted. In situations where analysis cannot be executed in a laboratory setting due to policy restrictions or reasons of expediency, researchers turn to conducting analysis in the field. This study aims to determine if there is a statistically significant rate of interobserver error between lab and in situ measurements. Standard osteological measurements of 15 individuals from the Old Don Jail in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, were analyzed by three researchers. The remains were analyzed in situ 12 months prior to being analyzed in a laboratory setting. A paired t-test was performed to determine if there was significant difference between the two sets of measurements. The mean difference (M=0.7182, SD=4.9712, N=719) was statistically significant (t(718)=4.2108, two tail p=0.000028), suggesting that there are significant differences between measurements taken in the field and those taken in the laboratory. The results of this study are important given that bioarchaeologists strive for high accuracy and precision, as well as replicability of results.

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