Adult Osteology Research Workshop
Medieval Crisis Populations

          As the 15th century ends, the battle for Europe begins! The southeastern European frontier collapses in front of the Ottoman Turks. The heroes (and their legend) that held back the East have died: Vlad Dracula the Impaler, prince of Wallachia, was assasinated in 1476; Holy Stephan the Great, prince of Moldavia; died in 1504; Skanderberg (Iskender Bey), lord of Albania, was killed in 1468. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the united European defeat at the great Battle of Mohacs in 1526 opened the way for the Ottoman expansion into Europe. By 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent has conquered southeastern Europe, the Kingdom of Hungary collapsed and the Ottoman troops were battering the walls of Vienna. The Ottoman expansions was finally checked in 1683, when the arrival of King Jan III Sobieski of Poland’s heavy cavalry charge under the walls of besieged Vienna broke the Ottoman lines and won a crucial victory.

          In Transylvania, the Saxon fortresses and the Szekely armies held the Ottomans armies at bay successfully. With the collapse of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1526, its Transylvanian territories became a political battlefield between European and the Ottoman backed princes until the Principality of Transylvania was born as an autonomous political entity in 1570. In 1600, Michael the Brave, with the support of the Transylvanian Szekely armies, beat the Ottoman and their supporters and realized the first union of the three Romania principalities into one kingdom.

          The aim of this project is to evaluate to what extent and how these major political events impacted physically local populations. For that purpose, we will analyze the human remains from four different cemeteries from central Transylvania, around the city of Odorheiu Secuiesc, 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. The osteology research workshop will address these research questions and train the students to conduct extensive and intensive 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.

           This summer’s workshop is designed to conduct an exhaustive osteological survey of the adult population from one of the four target sites. Students will receive intensive 2h lecture daily on theory and method in osteology prior to working on the bones, followed by hands on laboratory sessions. They will be taught how to determine age, sex, stature, identify pathologies, and take standard measurements. Participants 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.

          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, bone quizzes, group discussions, laboratory work, bone restoration and analysis, leading to individual and group research projects and presentations in a conference setting. Daily mandatory readings will accompany the specifics each lab day. This osteology research workshop is highly recommended for the participants interested in our more advanced projects, respectively the Juvenile Osteology Research Workshop.

          Students that wish to expand their skills and experience in the field can register for a 4 week (July 5 - August 1, 2020) session of the Medieval Cemetery Funerary Excavation  or the Ossuary Excavation and Commingled Remains Workshop immediately following the Adult Osteology Session.



Location: Odorheiu Secuiesc, Hatghita County, Transylvania, Romania


Dates: June 7- July 4, 2020


Housing: housed in a beautifully renovated hotel, 2-3 participants per room, with private bathrooms


Meals: breakfast and dinner is served Mon-Fri at the hotel; traditional Romanian and Szekler cuisine; we can accommodate vegetarian diets

Program Fees: US$ 2495 (4 weeks mandatory) - fees do not include tuition


Fee includes: registration and lab fees, lectures, access to study collections,  laboratory gear, housing and meals as described above.

Academic Credit: 3 or 6 undergraduate (graduate - if applicable) credits can be earned through University of South Florida - additional USF tuition fees apply. See USF Program Brochure for more information. USF procedures and deadlines apply. Contact Dr. Jonathan Bethard at USF for more details.




  • The outstanding success of our 2018 and 2019 GPR projects, the Applied Field Geophysics Workshop - GPR Applications, prompted us to buy a second GPR unit with a different central frequency and a different configuration. As a result, our participants will have the unique opportunity to get fully proficient on a 250MHz GPR system, in a cart configuration, as well as 500MHz system, in a rough terrain configuration.

  • Furthermore, participants who are committed to expand their field skill set can register to our new Geophysics Exploration and Field Excavation program. It is a 4 week program, combining the GPR Applications Workshop (5 days) and  Roman Villa Excavation (3 weeks). Participants save $200 over the combined costs of the individual programs.


New for our 2020 season: our Applied Field Geophysics Workshop-GPR Applications will allow the comparative professional training on the core GPR systems and configurations used in near surface investigations: 250MHz and 500MHz transducers, in respectively cart and rough terrain configurations. Our program is open to all disciplines, focusing on GPR theory, methods, techniques and applications.


As a result of overwhelming positive response and further request from our participants, we are offering the possibility to combine all sessions of our the GPR Applications Workshop with both field sessions of our Roman Villa Excavation as a stand alone program, allowing to save $200 on the combined fees. Our two research/training case study sites have been carefully chosen to combine increasing complexity of ancient, historical and modern features. These sites provide an unparalleled access to a diverse set of features and conditions.  We address urban and proto-urban settlement construction, complex anthropogenic stratigraphic relationships, variation in soil structure and conditions, wide range of materials and their use/reuse, unmapped ancient and modern utilities, potential graves, modern and ancient civil works projects (including the remains of roads, aqueducts, and wells), changes in hydrogeological environment caused by modern human intervention, and all as-yet undiscovered features. The highest quality for the best price on any GPR courses available anywhere!!!

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