Deconstructing death in paleodemography

Lyle W. Konigsberg, Susan R. Frankenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1992 in this Journal (Konigsberg and Frankenberg [1992] Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 89:235-256), we wrote about the use of maximum likelihood methods for the "estimation of age structure in anthropological demography." More specifically, we presented a particular method (the "iterated age-length key") from the fisheries literature and suggested that the method could be used in human and primate demography and paleodemography as well. In our paper (section titled "Some Future Directions"), we spelled out two broad areas that we expected to see develop over the ensuing years. First, we felt that the use of explicit likelihood methods would open up interest in basic estimation issues, such as the calculation of standard errors for demographic estimates and the formulation of tests for whether samples differed in their demographic structure. Second, we felt that the time was ripe for hazards analyses that would incorporate the uncertainty in estimation that follows from using age "indicators" rather than known ages. While some of these developments have occurred during the last decade, few have been reported in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. In this paper we resolve some issues from our 1992 paper, and attempt to redress this deficit in the literature by reviewing some recent developments in paleodemography over the past decade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-309
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Hazards analysis
  • Human skeletal biology
  • Life tables

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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