Intensive Osteology Research Workshop
Medieval Crisis Populations - Field Osteology

          Transylvania, Romania, has been in a perpetual state of religious and political upheaval for centuries as outsiders have tried to force their identities on the people of the area. Despite this, the people of the area have a culture, which is deeply rooted into their historic landscape. The on-going excavation of a medieval church from the village of Patakfalva (Valeni) in Transylvania, Romania and the cemetery associated with it, have resulted in the excavation of over 200 individuals to date. Through time, the church moved from servicing the three- village area to the immediate area of Patakfalva. The unexpected discovery of a pre-Christian cemetery underneath the church has extended the use of the funerary landscape back to late Migration Period.

          This is an intensive osteology course aimed to prepare students for field osteology, which is challenging in that one must be able to correctly identify, side, and age skeletal elements when minimal osseous material is visible, to properly plan the excavation of the burial. Goals of this three-week intensive workshop include: identification of skeletal fragments (human and nonhuman); estimation of general age of the bones and whether one should expect epiphyses or other additional ossification centers during excavation; identification of element side; and evaluation of pathological and taphonomic modification to bone.


          The high number of well-preserved burials and time depth of the cemetery allows for multiple research questions to be addressed during the course of the project:


1. How have cemetery demographics changed through time and how does this correlate with changing religious and political influences in the area?

2. How have indicators of health changed over time and how do they correlate with changing religious and political influences in the area?

3. How has biological kinship use of the cemetery changed over time? Can we biologically detect a transition from three villages using the cemetery to a single village? Also, can we identify family groups within the cemetery?


          Course material will be presented in lectures, discussions, and hands-on exercises at the Haaz Rezso Museum. The workshop will run from approximately 8h00 to 18h00 Monday to Friday. Typically, mornings will be reserved for lecture and hands-on instruction while afternoons will be dedicated to study time and data collection. Instruction of adult and juvenile remains will occur concurrently. This course is an intense but general course meant to prepare students for successful and efficient field osteological identification and examination.

          Students and participants are strongly encouraged to expand their skills and experience in the field, by applying for a 3 week (June 12 - July 2, 2016) session of the Medieval Cemetery Funerary Excavation or Deviant Mass Grave Excavation immediately following the Intensive Osteology Session.



Location: Odorheiu Secuiesc, Hatghita County, Transylvania, Romania


Dates: May 22 - June 11, 2016


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 Sekler cuisine; we can accomodate vegetarian diets


Cost: US$ 1685 (3 weeks mandatory)


Fee includes: registration and laboratory fees, museum clearence, lectures, laboratory gear, housing as described above

... about travel and safety, room and board, sightseeing




  • 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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