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Ossuary Excavation and Commingled Remains Osteology Research Workshop
Lost Churches Project

          Participants enrolled in this workshop will have a unique opportunity to gain both field and laboratory experience working with commingled human remains. Excavations at the Lost Church of Valeni in summer 2017 revealed an almost intact, stone built, medieval ossuary with excellent preservation. While ossuary excavation began in summer 2018, much work remains, especially considering that we have located another, earlier, ossuary from the same medieval "Lost Church".

          Students will spend 3 days (weather permitting) in the field learning excavation techniques for highly commingled contexts as well as honing their osteological knowledge. Two days of the week will be spent in laboratory analysis of an additional medieval ossuary. This will provide intensive training in excavation, processing, and analysis of commingled human assemblages.

          Participants will have the unique opportunity to work with not one, but two medieval commingled collections. Lab days will also feature lectures on site history, working with commingled assemblages, calculating MNIs and alternative measures, and data collection. Students will process skeletal remains, analyze taphonomic and pathological characteristics, estimate biological sex and age, and collect landmark data on the collections.

          Due to the intensive hands-on nature of the excavation and laboratory analysis, team size is limited to 6 participants to ensure an optimal learning experience.

          Our participants will be required to formulate a small research project, in groups of 4, using the materials from the commingled burial. Students will create a research design, including the formulation of a research question, collection of suitable data, analysis, and presentations as part of the Eighth International Osteology and Bioarchaeology Student Colloquium in Odorheiu Secuiesc.

          Participation to this workshop requires previous experience in human morphology, anatomy, and/or practical human osteology, such as our Adult Osteology Research Workshop or equivalent.




Location: Valeni, Harghita  County, Transylvania, Romania



Session 1: June 6 - July 3, 2021

Session 2: July 4 - July 31, 2021


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


Meals: Breakfast and dinner served at the hotel Mon-Fri; traditional Romanian and Sekler cuisine; vegetarian diets can be accomodated


Cost: US$ 2495  per session (4 weeks mandatory) - tuition fees not included

Single Room Supplement: US$ 400 per 4 week session (optional)


Fee includes: registration and field fees, lectures, field and laboratory gear, housing and meals as described above. Academic credits not included in the above cost.

Academic Credit (optional): 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.

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

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