Ectocranial suture closure: a revised method for the determination of skeletal age at death based on the lateral-anterior sutures

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1985 Sep;68(1):57-66. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330680106.


A new method for estimation of age-at-death based on the degree of suture closure is presented. The method employs simple ectocranial scoring of specific sites on the external table. Composite scores for two groups of sutures, lateral-anterior and vault systems, which are used to provide estimates of age-at-death, have been developed from a sample of 236 crania from the Hamann-Todd Collection. A variety of tests show that the lateral-anterior sutures are superior to the sutures of the vault, that ectocranial is superior to endocranial observation, and that age estimates are independent of race and sex. It is concluded that suture closure can provide valuable estimates of age-at-death in both archaeological and forensic contexts when used in conjunction with other skeletal age indicators.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Determination by Skeleton*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Black People
  • Death*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Skull / anatomy & histology
  • Skull / growth & development*
  • Skull / pathology
  • White People