Adult Age-at-Death in Past Populations: Widening Horizons of Methods, Approaches and Interpretations

After experiencing childhood and adolescence a person goes through different stages of life in adulthood, defining their roles in respective social, biological and economic systems. Fertility and reproduction, acquired life experience and skills or physical impairments caused by age and illness strongly influence these roles, and vice versa. Adulthood is thus a key aspect for understanding the life of past societies and of special significance for research on palaeodemography, social archaeology, palaeopathology or palaeoepidemiology. However, we all face the same problem: estimations of adult age-at-death are inaccurate. Due to the osteological reality (skeletal preservation, age marker specificity, reference collections), the information we deal with are often wide-spanning age ranges, hampering supraregional and diachronic population studies. Furthermore, recent research suggests that osteological methods that have been used for decades determine 'the young too old, and the old too young', implying shifts in mortality structures. These shifts cause discrepancies in life expectancy across different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The consequences of these discrepancies for past, present and future research are poorly understood. Thus, central aims of this session are to:

· discuss innovative disciplinary and interdisciplinary methods for determining or calibrating adult age-at-death in order to improve the accuracy, · examine potential shifts in mortality with respect to analytical approaches and interpretation, · challenge and diversify the concept of 'adulthood' in its biological social, and economic meaning, · explore synergies between experts from different disciplines to raise the discussion on this complex and significant topic to a new level.

We welcome theoretical and applied contributions, including methodological, qualitative and/or quantitative studies on ancient populations across time and space. We invite a broad scientific audience from the fields of biological, forensic and archaeological anthropology, palaeopathology, prehistoric and historical archaeology as well as those interested in aDNA research and other disciplines.

Keywords: adulthood, palaeodemography, interdisciplinary synergies, mortality

International session at the 27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists https://www.e-a-a.org/EAA2021/Programme.aspx?WebsiteKey=122bcc87-037e-4265-b72a-db2092c01854&hkey=f557022c-8526-45dd-b4ad-edaeb1c77ac8&Program=3#Program

Deadline for submissions: 11 February, 2021

Main organiser: Katharina Fuchs, Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University, Germany [email protected]

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