Juvenile Osteology Research Workshop (Bioarchaeology of Children) – Transylvania, Romania


As the 15th century ends, the battle for Europe continues! The heroes (and their legend) that held back the Ottoman East have died: Vlad Dracula the Impaler in 1476; Holy Stephan the Great in 1504; Skanderberg in 1468, opening the way for the Turkish expansion into Europe. Turkish pressure combined with the struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism has generated an extraordinary environment that impacted the local populations in a variety of ways, both physiologically and socio-culturally. The aim of this project is to continue to evaluate how major global political events impact physically the local Transylvanian populations, especially its most vulnerable stratum: the children. For that purpose, we will analyze the the relatively very well preserved remains from ca. 200 children (ranging from prenatal to preadult) from four different cemeteries from central Transylvania (Romania), dating from the 16-17th centuries. Students will be taught how to identify fragmented bones, determine age, sex (when applicable), identify pathologies, trauma and take standard measurements, as well as addressing specific research questions as they pertain to the study of juvenile remains. At the same time, they will be introduced to various osteological conservation methods and problems aiming at properly evaluate bone quality for DNA and isotope analysis as well as the potential (and limits) of analytical methods to answer real research questions. (Program taught by Dr. Jonathan Bethard, Boston University School of Medicine)