Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Erin Kimmerle, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lorena Madrigal, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Himmelgreen, Ph.D.


Forensic anthropology, occupation, robusticity, osteolytic, osteophytic, bioarchaeology, enthesopathies, MSM


This study tests whether musculoskeletal markers are attributable to occupational categories. It is hypothesized that individuals over the age of 30 years with a lifetime occupation as a laborer will demonstrate a significantly different pattern of activity markers from individuals in the white collar classifications. A sample of n=69 from the Maxwell Museum's Documented Skeletal Collection are investigated.

Upper and lower extremities were scored for MSM type (robusticity, stress lesions, and ossification exostoses) and severity (grades 0 - 3) following Hawkey and Merbs (1995) visual reference system. To evaluate methodological approaches to MSM scoring, ossification exostoses and stress lesions were also scored using the Mariotti et al. (2004) proposed methods. Upper limb muscle insertion sites on the humerus, radius, and ulna and lower limb insertion sites on the femur, fibula, patella, calcaneus, and tibia were studied.

The Kruskal Wallis test was used to predict occupational class according to an individual's aggregate MSM z-score. The Mann-Whitney test was used for comparison of aggregate MSM z-scores between the two occupational categories and for comparison of aggregate MSM z-scores between males and females. The Spearman correlation was used for non-parametric correlation analysis of aggregate MSM z-scores and the occupational categories of white collar and labor. The data were analyzed using the statistical software program SPSS (version 17.0).

Results of this study show that musculoskeletal markers cannot statistically predict, nor can they be used to distinguish between, occupational categories of white collar and labor. Comparison of MSM shows no significant difference in the overall patterns of enthesopathies between individuals who report an occupation of white collar or those who report an occupation of laborer as defined by the U.S. Office of Personnel. Comparison of MSM in this population shows no significant difference between males and females, regardless of occupational category, a finding which runs counter to many earlier studies.

Using dichotomous data it is revealed that laborers develop MSM symmetrically, evidence of whole-body activity. Further, white collar MSM can be associated with sitting and elevating the arm. Laborer's MSM are associated with lifting, twisting, pushing, squatting, walking, running and standing.

Recommendations on methodology are provided.