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, 82 (1), 53-9

Statistical Assessment of Population Variability: A Methodological Approach


Statistical Assessment of Population Variability: A Methodological Approach

P J Key et al. Am J Phys Anthropol.


We have implemented a multivariate statistical methodology to assess the degree and pattern of cranial variability in skeletal samples. Specifically, the method is designed to test whether variability in a skeletal sample exceeds "normal within-group variability" defined in the present instance as variability present among crania from a cemetery associated with a village. It involves comparing a covariance matrix derived from a sample of unknown composition to one representing "normal within-group variability." The method has been applied to two Plains Indian craniometric samples. The Leavenworth site (39CO9) represents the remnants of previously autonomous Arikara Indian villages devastated by epidemic diseases in the late 1700s. The Bad River 2 Phase is an archaeological designation grouping together closely related sites in the Bad-Cheyenne region of South Dakota dating from 1740-1795 AD. We were able to show substantial heterogeneity among crania from Leavenworth. District burial areas at Leavenworth account for some of the heterogeneity, supporting the notion that they represent an attempt to maintain former social distinctions. We were unable to differentiate among sites within the Bad River 2 Phase, suggesting that it is a valid biological unit.

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