Osteology, Bioarchaeology and Funerary Archaeology in Transylvania

More field school opportunities in Transylvania.

The 2013-2014 osteology and bioarchaeology programs are taught by Dr. Jonathan Bethard (Forensic Anthropology Program, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine).

As the 15th century ends, the southeastern European frontier collapses in front of the Ottoman Turks. As Europe redefines itself in the wake of the Ottoman invasion, the Carpathian frontier still holds fast against the Eastern invaders. With the collapse of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1526, its Transylvanian territories became a political battlefield between European and the Ottoman backed princes. The local populations lived under constant social, political, economic and religious stress. During the late Middle Ages, Transylvania goes through major political changes, and a spiritual crisis, under the pressure of Islam from the East and Protestantism from the West.

The aim of the osteology and bioarchaeology projects is to evaluate how major global political events impact physically the local Transylvanian populations. For that purpose, we will analyze the relatively very well preserved human remains from ca. 200 adults and 100 children from four different cemeteries from central Transylvania (Romania), dating from the 16-17th centuries. Students will be taught how to identify fragmented bones, determine age, sex, stature, identify pathologies, trauma and take standard measurements. At the same time, they will be introduced to various osteological conservation problems aiming at properly evaluate bone quality for DNA and isotope analysis.

Concurrently, our funerary excavation aims at understanding the evolution of the population within this space-time environment, the changes in the very local type of church architecture and burial patterns through time, and the variations on the Christian burial ritual during social, political and economic stress. Through a more thorough study of the cemeteries and their occupants, we will also explore the different processes that led to the penetration of Protestantism in the region and then its subsequent return to Catholicism. The further study of the human remains in our osteology laboratory will provide a more detailed view of the “lived” human aspects of these transitions and crises.

Osteology Workshops: Late Medieval ”Crisis” Populations – The Remaking of the European Frontier
Location: Odorheiu Secuiesc, Transylvania, Romania
Dates: June 8 – July 5, 2014 (all level students)
More information: http://archaeotek.org/osteology_and_bioarch_workshop/osteology_workshop
Contact e-mail: archaeology@archaeotek.org

Bioarchaeology of Children Osteology Workshop: Victims of Change – lost Churches Projects
Location: Odorheiu Secuiesc, Transylvania, Romania
Dates: July 6 – August 2, 2014 (intermediary and advanced level students)
More information: http://archaeotek.org/osteology_and_bioarch_workshop/bioarchaeology_of_children_workshop
Contact e-mail: archaeology@archaeotek.org

Excavation: Medieval Cemetery – Life and Death on the Edge of Europe
Location: Teleac and Valeni, Harghita County (Southern Transylvania), Romania
Period: Late Middle Ages
Excavation dates – Session 1: June 15 – July 5, 2014
Excavation dates – Session 2: July 6 – July 26, 2014
More information: http://archaeotek.org/medieval_funerary_excavation
Contact e-mail: archaeology@archaeotek.org

For student evaluations of the 2013 season, go to: http://archaeotek.org/student_project_evaluation

For additional information: www.archaeotek.org