Pathology Research Workshop
Medieval Crisis Populations - Health and Crisis

          During the 16th-18th century, Central-Eastern Europe, and Transylvania as its frontier,  underwent through a series of global and local severe crises. These crises were not only political but also social, cultural and religious, resulting in normative behavioral vacuums when confronted to various catastrophic events, such as famine, plague, military or civil strife, epidemics, etc. In this context, deviant practices are implemented in an effort to bypass the immediate crises and establish normalcy. As a result, unique anthropological sites are created. Our funerary site near Feliceni is an exemple of this phenomenon. Whoever is buried there, is separated from the community and from the church. Either it is a shunned segment of their social construct, or it is a place where they buried individuals that displayed certain not predetermined physical, social, religious stigmata, or they are the victims of an epidemic. The core question we will ask in this research workshop is: how were those people (and their death) different?

          This workshop is a direct follow up of the Deviant Mass Grave Mortuary Excavation. The focus of this intensive lab-based workshop will be on the identification of pathological changes in skeletal material. Students will clean and analyze skeletal material from excavations occurring earlier in the summer and perform full analyses of the remains. No prior osteological knowledge is necessary for this workshop, as the first week will be a review of human osteology as well as lectures centering on the estimation of age at death and sex. Participants will be trained in identifying in a bioarchaeological context, and recognizing the osteological markers for:

 

  • bony remodeling and reactions

  • infectious diseases: tuberculosis, leprosy, Treponema and other bacterial infections

  • mycotic, viral, parasitic infections

  • metabolic disorders

  • congenital disorders/skeletal dysplasia

  • normal age related changes

 

 

          All of these identifications and methodological training will be very important in the final projects: demography forms the basis for identification or exclusion of epidemic disease. Students will write osteobiographies for the individuals excavated, consisting of baseline data (such as age at death and sex), identification of trauma, activity patterns, and pathological changes. They will then present these data in a public format at the end of the workshop.

LOGISTICS

 

Location: Odorheiu Secuiesc, Hatghita County, Transylvania, Romania

 

Dates: July 3- July 23, 2016

 

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

 

Meals: breakfast and dinner are served Mon-Fri at the hotel; traditional Romanian and Sekler cuisine; we can accomodate vegetarian diets

 

Cost: US$ 1785 (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