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International Student Colloquium on Osteology and Bioarchaeology: Session II
“Bioarchaeology of Children”
Haáz Rezsö Múzeum
Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania
August 1, 2014 9:40AM
Colloquium Abstract: For the past four weeks, an international team has worked to analyze non-adult human skeletal remains excavated by personnel from the Haáz Rezsö Múzeum in 2012 and 2013. These remains were part of an excavation at the Reformed Church in the village of Bögöz located in Harghita County, Romania. The team has completed the preliminary analysis of 67 non-adult burials and will be discussing the ways in which bioarchaeologists interpret juvenile human skeletal remains from archaeological sites.
9:40AM – 9:45AM
Welcome and Introduction
9:45AM – 10:00AM
Contemporary Issues in Paleodemography and Three Medieval Cemeteries in Transylvania: A Case Study
Paleodemography, the study and reconstruction of demographic information of historic populations, is a fairly recent development in the collection and interpretation of bioarchaeological data. As such, it is and has been undergoing constant refinement since its establishment in the early 1970s. This presentation thus provides an overview of current issues affecting paleodemographic studies and how they relate to data collected from three medieval cemeteries in Transylvania.
10:00AM – 10:15AM
Possible Evidence of Scurvy in Perinatal and Postnatal Remains from Bögöz, Transylvania
Analysis of perinatal and postnatal fetal remains showed signs of non-specific periosteal reaction on numerous bones in the skeleton. Periosteal reactions are defined as deposition of new bone and are caused by numerous processes. The periosteal reaction exhibited in the Bögöz remains is consistent with descriptions of lesions caused by scurvy, a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency. The presence of these lesions in such young individuals strongly indicates a maternal vitamin C deficiency which could have had consequences on the fetus’ health.
10:15 – 10:30AM
Periosteal Paradigms: Seeing what isn't there
Throughout archaeology, there has been a paradox of confirmation. With so little diagnostic information readily available, especially in circumstances of skeletal biology, oftentimes enormous leaps of logic are embraced and even institutionalized. Such was the perspective for much of the 20th century regarding periosteal reactions in osseous tissue. This presentation seeks to give a literature review of the historical perspectives on the etiologies commonly associated with these reaction lesions, and the conclusions of more recent clinical studies and how these may compare to individual samples from Bogoz.
10:30AM – 10:45AM – Coffee Break
10:45AM – 11:00AM
Taphonomic Effects on the Bögöz Burials and the Bioarchaeological Record
Taphonomic changes to bone are caused by a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors and can cause a loss of biological and/or contextual information. Bioarchaeologists must be able to identify taphonomic changes in order to enhance their interpretations. This presentation will demonstrate the ways that taphonomy affected select burials from Bögöz and Telekfalva. We will conclude our discussion with examples of what information taphonomic processes destroy as well as the information such processes provide about the history of an individual.
11:00AM – 11:15AM
Developmental Discrepancies in the Bioarchaeological Record: A Comparison of Dental and Post-Cranial Aging Methods
Environmental factors can affect skeletal and dental tissues, causing growth and maturity delays which can be observed in skeletal assemblages. This presentation thus discusses age estimations on juveniles from Bögöz and whether these individuals show a true discrepancy between dental and long bone age estimations. Implications of such discrepancies will further be discussed.
11:15 – 11:30AM
Stress in Transylvania: The Prevalence of Linear Enamel Hypoplasias Among Juveniles in Bögöz and Telekfalva
Our presentation will discuss the etiology of linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) and how their presence on the teeth provides evidence of stress episodes and growth disruptions within populations. Particularly, our research involves the individuals exhibiting LEH from Telekfalva and Bögöz, along with comparative sites from Europe. Since hypoplasias are indicative of malnutrition and/or environmental stressors (such as infection or disease), this research will allow for further insight into the quality of life among non-adults in this region of Transylvania.
11:45 – 12:00PM
Infected from within: an overview of juvenile osteomyelitis at Bögöz
Paleopathology, or the study of disease prevalence in archaeological contexts, offers insights on the epidemiological environments of past populations. A non-specific bone infection known as ‘osteomyelitis’ is one of many diseases that can be seen in the archaeological record and allow conclusions to be drawn regarding individuals’ quality of life.
This presentation will focus on the case of Sir-153 from Bögöz Church, Transylvania. Sir-153 was a juvenile individual infected with osteomyelitis of the tibia. An overview of symptoms will be covered and a differential diagnosis will be offered. Additionally, inferences regarding the impact of osteomyelitis on the quality of life will be discussed. Concluding remarks will cover the modern study of osteomyelitis and its continuing prevalence.
12:00 – 12:15PM