Adult Osteology Research Laboratory Workshop – Medieval Crisis Populations in Transylvania – 2024

Location: Odorheiu Secuiesc, RO

Season: June 9, 2024 to July 6, 2024

Application Deadline: May 1, 2024

Deadline Type: Exact Date


Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

University of South Florida (USA); Bio/Archaeological Techniques and Research Center (BioArch Canada); Haaz Rezso Muzeum (Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania);

Project Director:
Dr. Jonathan Bethard (University of South Florida); Dr. Andre Gonciar Archaeological Techniques and Research Center, Canada); Dr. Zsolt Nyaradi (Haaz Rezso Muzeum, Romania)

Project Description:

Transylvania, Romania

          The aim of this project is to evaluate how the major political events of the 16th and 17th centuries have physically impacted local Transylvanian populations. For that purpose, we have been studying human remains excavated from several medieval cemeteries from eastern Transylvania.  During the summer of 2024, we will concentrate our efforts on analyzing the exceptionally well preserved skeletal remains excavated from the collapsed medieval „Lost Church” located in the community of Valeni/Patakfalva. 

          The osteology workhop will train students to conduct osteological analyses and frame bioarchaeolgoical research questions. Students  will  receive  daily lectures on topics related to human skeletal biology and spend the first two weeks intensively reviewing human osteology, evaluating of sex and age estimation, osteometrics, and skeletal and dental pathologies.

          The program is an intensive, in-depth, hands on laboratory workshop, focusing on research skill acquisition. This summer’s workshop is designed to conduct an exhaustive osteological survey of the adult population from our active Lost Church Medieval Cemetery Excavation. Although a basic knowledge of human anatomy and morphology is useful, this laboratory workshop session is intended for both inexperienced and advanced students. The workshop comprises daily intensive lectures on human anatomy (including determination of sex, age, stature and ancestry), biomechanics and pathology, bone quizzes, group discussions, laboratory work, bone restoration and analysis, leading to individual and group research projects and presentations in a conference setting. Daily mandatory readings will accompany the specifics each lab day.

Period(s) of Occupation: Middle Ages, Human Osteology

Intensive, in-depth osteological analysis of the human remains from our Lost Church of Valeni medieval cemetery, our current active excavation site, in Transylvania (Romania).

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 4 weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: Basic knowledge of human anatomy and morphology preferred but not required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
         Students and volunteers will be housed in Odorheiu Secuiesc, a small and beautiful city, rich in history and culture. It is cosmopolitan town, situated in central Transylvania. Students and volunteers will be housed in double or triple occupancy rooms within 45min walking distance from downtown Odorheiu Secuiesc (or a 10min cab ride) and 15min away from several supermarkets/mall. Breakfast and dinner will be served Mon-Fri in the hotel restaurant. Participants will sample a variety of amazing home cooked Romanian and Szekler traditional meals. Students and volunteers are responsible for their own lunches in the field. Beware that Romanian cuisine is meat oriented, but we will do our best accommodate vegetarian dietary requirements (however, we are not able to offer a vegan or gluten-free meal option). There are plenty of small stores, supermarkets, farmer markets, where you can purchase fresh cheese, various meat products, garden vegetables, bread, drinks, and anything else you might need. Odorheiu Secuiesc provides all the amenities of a small European city, which includes hospitals an international bus station, train station, and all the stores you might need. Program cost: $2695 per 4 week session (additional USF tuition fees apply, if registering for credit).

Academic Credit:
3-6 undergraduate/graduate academic credits are available, if interested, through the University of South Florida. Contact directly University of South Florida - Education Abroad for details regarding registration and tuition.

Contact Information:

Dr. Jonathan Bethard or Dr. Andre Gonciar

University of South Florida




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