The relation between stature and long bone length in the Roman Empire
Stature is increasingly popular among economic historians as a proxy for (biological) standard of living. Recently, researchers have started branching out from written sources to the study of stature from skeletal remains. Current methods for the reconstruction of stature from the skeleton implicitly assume fixed body proportions. We have tested these assumptions for a database containing over 10,000 individuals from the Roman Empire. As it turns out, they are false: the ratio of the length of the thigh bone to the length of the other long bones is significantly different from those implied in the most popular stature reconstruction methods. Therefore, we recommend deriving a proxy for living standards from long bone length instead of reconstructed stature.
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