This article presents an assessment of TA2, which has been used by researchers in reconstructing past populations' mortality profiles, so as to better understand its age estimation patterns and trends when applied to a large-scale, documented Asian skeletal sample.
Specifically, this study examined the patterns of error and bias of TA2 when applied to three Asian populations. The study assessed cumulative effects of the age estimates in mortality reconstruction, and TA2's ability to accurately characterize the effects of covariates (e.g., sex, stature) that are linked to unequal social status and differential access to resources and known to further cause mortality disparities. The results indicate that age estimates of three age indicators (the pubic symphysis, auricular surface, and cranial sutures) combined with an informed prior produced the most accurate age estimates across all three Asian samples. Thus, the age composition of a target skeletal sample dictates the accuracy of TA2 estimates, and therefore demographic parameters. Although the exact parameter values may differ from the true values and a consistent under-estimation of female age-at-death and survivorship is evident, TA2 recovers a realistic approximation of a mortality pattern by revealing (previously hidden) elderly individuals. (publisher abstract modified)
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