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Osteoware: Standardized Skeletal Documentation Software

Osteoware: Standardized Skeletal Documentation Software


Quantitative variation in skeletal morphology results from genetic and environmental differences between populations. The metric assessment of cranial and postcranial morphological variation has a deep history within physical anthropology research precisely because past population history, such as gene flow and genetic drift, may be reflected in these measurements.

Anatomical landmarks

  • Intuitive data entry interface facilitates craniometric documentation.
  • Both caliper and digital data capture is supported for up to 60 cranial measurements.
  • Data stored using Howells three-letter designations.
  • Multiple data capture events per cranium.
  • Easily identify crania with cultural reshaping/modification in database.
  • Comments field available to document data capture caveats.

The Osteoware Craniometrics module facilitates the capture of quantitative data through an intuitive and flexible data entry interface that supports manual caliper-based techniques (data entry by hand) as well as digital capture of three-dimensional coordinate landmark data and calculation of craniometrics via the 3Skull program.  In turn the linear data can be used in FORDISC or CranID for probability of ancestry assessments or other morphometric analyses (see Cranial Morphometric Resources below for downloads).

Craniometrics captured with the aid of the 3Skull program and a digitizer tablet.

The 34 cranial measurements in the Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994) Standards follow the Forensic Data Bank (FDB, Moore-Jansen et al. 1994), which are predominantly based on Martin’s classic definitions. In Osteoware, the cranial measurements follow the Howells (1973) definitions for 60 measurements including nearly all of the FDB cranial measurements as well as subtenses, fractions, and radii. These measurements are stored in fields using Howells’ three-letter designations for craniometrics. Mandibular measurements are those included in the Standards. Two additional measurements not collected by Howells, minimum frontal breadth and palate length (designated as WFB and MAL) are also collected. Measurements are taken on the left side whenever possible.

The first data entry screen of the Craniometric module for sliding, spreading, and coordinate calipers.

Repeated craniometric data collection on the same catalog number are entered into the database as a separate record with a different trial number. This assists in the determination of inter- and intraobserver error. A ‘reshaped?’ data field is provided on the first data entry screen to flag records when cranial deformation is present; this helps to quickly cull data for subsequent analyses. In addition, a comments text field is provided on the last screen to enter certain caveats on the data collected, such as measurements captured on the right side when the left side is damaged.

The second data entry screen of the Craniometric module containing radii and mandibular measurements, as well as a comments text field.

Cranial Morphometric Resources

3Skull program






Buikstra, J.E. and D.H. Ubelaker. Standards for Data Collection From the Human Skeletal Remains. Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research Series No. 44. Arkansas Archaeological Survey: Fayetteville, 1994.

Howells, W.W. Cranial Variation in Man: A Study by Multivariate Analysis of Patterns of Difference among Recent Human Populations. Papers of the Peabody Museum 67. Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass, 1973.