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Osteological Survey and Workshop
Late Bronze Age populations in Transylvania
June 03 - June 30, 2012 (First session)
July 01 - July 28, 2012 (Second session)
By its geographic location, Romania is situated on the main migration axes in and out of Europe. The Carpathian Mountains constituted de facto the contact zone between the two macro-regions: respectively Eastern and Central-Western Europe. In this context, the Transylvanian Depression, being very well bound geographically, became a very dynamic zone of culture synthesis. Transylvania became a transfer zone of people, cultural practices, goods and technologies. In that regard, it is noticeable that Eastern Europe in general and Transylvania in particular displayed inverse trends when compared to Central and Western Europe during the Bronze Age, especially visible in funeral rituals.
Iron Age Sacrificial Child Graves
The Late Bronze Age in Eastern Europe is characterized by the appearance of a large scale archaeological formation, the Noua-Sabatinovka-Coslogeni Complex. A remarkable unity of settlement structure, material culture and funerary practices has been achieved over an area that stretches from the Western Carpathians and the lower Danube to the regions east of the Azov Sea.This project focuses on the Transylvanian component of the Noua Culture. The Noua civilization in Transylvania is known mostly from the study of cemeteries. As a result, the Noua population is structurally invisible due to the absence of data regarding settlement spatial organization or social structure.
Although the origin of the Noua Culture is still debated, most specialists agree on an Eastern origin. The morphology of the Noua population differs from the earlier Moldovan and Transylvanian local populations but bears significant similarities with that of the Sabatinovka Culture. Very basic osteological analyses of ancestry have shown a mix of an Eastern type and a more Mediterranean gracile indigenous type, supporting the idea of the penetration of an Eastern population.
The scope of the project is to investigate a sample of the Noua population in terms of advanced morphology, DNA and stable isotope studies. The goal is to achieve a better understanding of these populations by examining who they were, where they were coming from, how they lived, and their geographic and cultural radiation.
The collection that we will study is housed by the National Museum of Transylvanian History in Cluj-Napoca. Cluj is the largest and most dynamic city in Transylvania. It is the home of one of the first and most prestigious universities of Romania, the Babes-Bolyai University, hosting a vast array of national and international programs. As a result, it is a very lively 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 such as the Turda Canyons (Cheile Turzii) are just a short 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 DNA and 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 DNA analysis. 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.
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