Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Biologically, discernable differences exist between and within populations based on environmental and genetic factors. Understanding these differences is necessary in forensic anthropology as biological ancestry is asked of forensic anthropologists when assessing an individual’s biological profile. In order to make this assessment, secular changes in population dynamics need to be tracked. The purpose of this research is to examine nonmetric racial characteristics in the skull between American blacks and whites. This study used twelve nonmetric traits as criteria on two different temporal groups from collections at the Smithsonian Institution (N=408) and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (N=218). Frequencies were calculated, along with chi-squares (p<.05), as a means to assess accuracy of these nonmetric traits and trace secular change over time between American blacks and whites. The results of this study showed a high accuracy with the traits used, with secular change occurring in the same direction. The lower face became narrower over time in all populations, implying same directional change. The implications of this study for race identification of skeletal materials are explored.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mary H. Manhein