The US method:
Let me begin on which standards I based the design. The Field and Lab board
end plates were developed after a design first introduced by the University
of Tennessee and subsequently made by a local craftsman out of wood
approximately 15 years ago or so. The hole in my board and the first boards
from Tennessee are of the approximate same size and allow for the passage of
the medial and lateral intercondylar tubercles through the end plane. The
standard for tibial length that I used to design the board is:
"69. Tibia: Length: distance from the superior articular surface of the
lateral condyle to the tip of the medial malleolus. Instrument: osteometric
board. Comment: place the tibia on the board, resting on its posterior
surface with the longitudinal axis parallel to the instrument. Place the
lip of the medial malleolus on the vertical end board and press the movable
upright against the proximal articular surface of the lateral condyle
(figure 55)."; Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains,
Proceedings of a Seminar at The Field Museum of Natural History Organized by
Janathan Haas, Jane E. Buikstra and Douglas H. Ubelaker Editors. Arkansas
Archeological Survey Research Series No. 44, 1994.
From this I interpret that one could measure tibial length without a hole to
accompany the intercondylar tubercles by using the edge of the movable plane
to locate the proximal articular surface of the lateral condyle. As I
mentioned before, the addition of the hole was made at the suggestion of my
first customers of this particular instrument so that one could maneuver the
tibia into position with less complications.
Argument against the method presented in Brothwell '81:
...while Brothwell (1981) does indeed state that measurement is taken
"...from both proximal condyles to the tip of the medial malleolus",
(Brothwell, 1981: 86), He sites his source for the stature formulae from
Trotter and Gleser, 1952 and 1958. Trotter and Gleser state that
measurement of the tibia is taken by placing the "...End of the malleolus
against vertical wall of the osteometric board, bone resting on its dorsal
surface with its long axis parallel with the long axis of the board, block
applied to the most prominent part of the lateral half of lateral condyle."
(Trotter and Gleser, 1952: 473).
It seems that Brothwell mistakenly directs that measurement be taken from
both condyles when the formulae were developed and rely on measurement taken
from only the lateral condyle. Perhaps Brothwell mistakenly took a standard
from earlier in the 1952 article that refers to work done by Rollet in 1888
stating that "...both greatest and bicondylar lengths of the femur; and the
distance from the two condyles of the head (with the intercondyloid eminence
in the opening of the board) to the extremity of the medial malleolus of the
tibia were taken." (Trotter and Gleser, 1952: 464). However, the work by
Rollet was not incorporated into the formulae and only given as example.
Any measurements taken of the tibia as directed by Brothwell cannot be
applied to the formulae developed by Trotter and Gleser. Inspection of the
Trotter and Gleser (1958) finds no change in methods of measurements only
adjustment of formulae.