MEDIEVAL CRISIS POPULATIONS
- Central Transylvania, Romania -
June 8 - July 5, 2014
The aim of this project is to evaluate how major political events physically impact local populations. For that purpose, we will analyze the human remains from four different cemeteries from central Transylvania (Romania), dating from the 16-17th centuries. The four communities that were chosen for this purpose are in relative geographic proximity to one another but vary in their settled environment from low valley flood plain to hill top occupation.
The research itself has three distinct stages. The first one will address the four communities individually in order to assess the internal specific characteristics of each population. The second stage will evaluate the degree to which these discrete populations are integrated into a larger Transylvanian-Szekely population. And finally, we will evaluate how the political changes that impacted Transylvania during the 16-17th centuries have physically affected these populations, and to what degree and why there were differential changes within and between the four discrete populations during those events.
Both the osteology and the bioarchaeology workshops will address these research questions and train the students to conduct extensive osteological surveys. The goal is to achieve a better understanding of these populations and the changes that affected them by examining who they were, how they lived, and their adaptive strategies to outside stresses.
The collection that we will study is housed at the “Haaz Rezso” Museum in Odorheiu Secuiesc, Harghita County, in the heart of Transylvania. Odorheiu is a very beautiful and lively Szekely city, with a plethora of cultural, gastronomical and social venues. Historical trips to places such as Sighisoara (Dracula's birthplace and an UNESCO heritage site) or nature hikes through dramatic landscapes of the Eastern Carpathians with all their thermal, mineral and volcanic springs are just a bus or train ride away.
This summer’s workshop is designed to conduct an exhaustive osteological survey as well as to select bones to be brought back for stable isotope analysis. Students will receive an intensive 2h lecture daily on theory and method in osteology prior to working on the bones. They will be taught how to determine age, sex, stature, identify pathologies, and take standard measurements and 3D scans. As well, they will be introduced to various osteological conservation problems aiming at properly evaluate bone quality for various analyses. This survey of bioarchaeological theory and method, coupled with hands on data gathering, is aimed at providing the students the analytical tools needed for the interpretation of the data they collect.
The funerary excavation associated with the program is designed specifically for the participants to the two osteology workshops. It's aim is to give students and volunteers the opportunity to engage with the archaeological record and acquire the critical knowledge that would enhance the laboratory analysis of the human remains.
June 8 - July 5, 2014
Although a basic knowledge of human anatomy and morphology is useful, this laboratory workshop session is intended for both inexperienced and advanced students. The workshop comprises daily intensive lectures on human anatomy (including determination of sex, age, stature and ancestry), biomechanics and pathology, group discussions, laboratory work, bone restoration and analysis, leading to individual and group research projects and presentations. Daily mandatory readings will accompany the specifics each lab day.
Students that wish to expand their skills and experience can register for a 3 week (July 6 - July 26, 2014) session of the funerary archaeology excavation immediately following this osteology session.