Twenty Years of Archaeology and Bioarchaeology in
Archaeological Techniques and Center Research (ArchaeoTek Canada) has been created in 2001 in Canada by two archaeologists of Eastern European background, Dr. Andre Gonciar and Dr. Stephen Batiuk, as an independent association of researchers in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, physical anthropology and GIS/remote sensing. Our initial goal was to provide a platform where international collaborative research programs could develop, through which we could provide logistical support and up-to-date expertise (methodological and theoretical) to selected projects in Eastern Europe. In that context, Dr. Gonciar set up the Southern Transylvania Projects, directed towards studying the bio/archaeological and anthropological development of socio-cultural systems in a geographically distinct territory, from the early Neolithic to the Classical period, to the Post Roman Iron Age, to the Middle Ages.
Since its creation in 2001, ArchaeoTek Archaeology has been providing field and laboratory education and research opportunities in Transylvania, Romania, in the fields of archaeology, bioarchaeology, anthropology, classics, history, experimental archaeology, applied geochemistry and geophysics. Working in close collaboration with Romanian museums and universities, our researchers prioritize the full integration of a comprehensive educational and cultural experience for students with the research designs of the scientific directorship. Focusing on skill acquisition, ArchaeoTek offers rigorous and intensive training and hands-on experience performing essential cultural heritage field and lab work in the region, including site excavation, site survey, applied field geophysics and geochemistry, experimental archaeology, funerary and mortuary excavation, bioarchaeological and osteological analysis and research, across a range of time periods from the Neolithic to Medieval. Our staff – faculty, graduate students and scientific support staff from some of the best-regarded university programs – is committed to providing students of any background with a productive, educational and valuable fieldwork experience, going above and beyond traditional academic field school approaches. Being an independent research program, together with our direct involvement with local communities, allows us to maintain positive, respectful and lasting relationships with our Romanian counterparts. This also permits us to keep cost to students as low as possible, as well as grants us the freedom to extend research, conference presentation and publication opportunities to students who wish to incorporate their experience with ArchaeoTek into their future academic work.
From what initially was intended to be purely a scientific endeavor, Southern Transylvania Projects evolved to be much more. It became a full program of exploration of Romanian archaeology, anthropology and culture, truly a journey into the histories and realities of the Romanian countryside. As a result, during the past 20 years, more than 2000 American, Canadian, Western European and Australian (and more) participants have spent their summers on one of our projects, contributing to the exploration and further understanding of the Romanian past and, extension, the evolution of the "Old World". The experience they took back to their home countries portrayed a different Romania from the one commonly displayed in the news. These students experience a country enriched by an extraordinary anthropological heritage that they are now part of in a small but meaningful way, a diverse and vibrant culture, and a welcoming people.
All our projects (see project list) are the result of research initiatives set up as field, laboratory and scientific collaborations with local museums and/or national research units, in a context of scientific collaboration and mutual respect. At the present time, the Southern Transylvania Projects are currently the longest lasting cultural international endeavor in Transylvania and one of the very few international archaeological projects in Romania. The full day session that we presented at the 2012 Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference in Buffalo, “New Perspectives in Transylvanian Archaeology”, celebrated a decade of our field and scientific research by introducing the North American scientific community and public to the extraordinary archaeology of the Romanian distant past. The ongoing series of our International Student Colloquium in Osteology and Bioarchaeology, now in its 8th year, hosted by the Haaz Rezso Museum, brings together Romanian and Western perspectives, while preparing our participants to bring their research forward and propagate newly generated scientific knowledge. ArchaeoTek students and staff continue to bring Transylvanian archaeology and anthropology to the North American scientific community through numerous conference presentations and sessions at SAA, AAPA, PPA, AIA and TAG-USA.
Furthermore, since 2016, our osteology workshops and funerary excavations are formally credited by the University of South Florida and Western Carolina University, respectively.
And finally, the aquisition of new exploratory gear allows ArchaeoTek to set new standards of excellence in the field. Depending on the project, our participants will get trained in using our 3D scanner and printer, digital microscopes, drone mapping (panchromatic, thermal and multispectral), total station and two ground penetrating radar (GPR), of different transducer frequencies (250MHz and 500MHz) and system configurations (cart and rough terrain). In 2021, we took another step further into the digital, with the creation of the Intensive Digital Curation and Photogrammetry Applications Workshop.