Recent Progress in Bioarchaeology: Approaches to the Osteological Paradox Academic Article uri icon


  • The publication of The Osteological Paradox (Wood et al., 1992, Current Anthropology, 33:343-370) a decade ago sparked debate about the methods and conclusions drawn from bioarchaeological research. Wood et al. (1992, Current Anthropology, 33:343-370) highlighted the problematic issues of selective mortality and hidden heterogeneity in frailty (susceptibility to illness), and argued that the interpretation of population health status from skeletal remains is not straightforward. Progress in bioarchaeology over the last few years has led to the development of tools that will help us grapple with the issues of this "osteological paradox." This paper provides a review of recent literature on age and sex estimation, paleodemography, biodistance, growth disruption, paleopathology, and paleodiet. We consider how these advances may help us address the implications of hidden heterogeneity in frailty and selective mortality for studies of health and adaptation in past societies.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Archaeological Research

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Wright, L. E., & Yoder, C. J.

citation count

  • 131

complete list of authors

  • Wright, Lori E||Yoder, Cassady J

publication date

  • January 2003