Archaeological excavations conducted at an early mediaeval cemetery in Volders (Tyrol, Austria) produced 141 complete skeletal remains dated between the 5th/6th and 12th/13th centuries. These skeletons represent one of the largest historical series of human remains ever discovered in the East Alpine region. Little historical information is available for this region and time period. The good state of preservation of these bioarchaeological finds offered the opportunity of performing molecular genetic investigations. Adequate DNA extraction methods were tested in the attempt to obtain as high DNA yields as possible for further analyses. Molecular genetic sex-typing using a dedicated PCR multiplex ("Genderplex") gave interpretable results in 88 remains, 78 of which had previously been sexed based on morphological features. We observed a discrepancy in sex determination between the two methods in 21 cases. An unbiased follow-up morphological examination of these finds showed congruence with the DNA results in all but five samples.
Age estimation based on the counting of incremental lines in dental cementum is a method frequently used for the estimation of the age at death for humans in bioarchaeology, and increasingly, forensic anthropology. Assessment of applicability, precision, and method reproducibility continue to be the focus of research in this area, and are occasionally accompanied by significant controversy. Differences in methodological techniques for data collection (e.g. number of sections, factor of magnification for counting or interpreting "outliers") are presented. Potential influences on method reliability are discussed, especially for their applicability in forensic contexts.
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