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