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Migration, Health, and Lifestyle in the Kingdom of the Gepids (Transylvania)

Location: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

June 30, 2013 to August 4, 2013

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, March 30, 2013

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Transylvania Bioarchaeology Research Group, and National History Museum of Transylvania (MNIT)

Project Director:

Kori Lea Filipek-Ogden, Durham University, California State University Long Beach, and Sabrina Gloux, John Abbot College

Project Description

Skeletal remains within cemeteries and individual burials have proven to be an invaluable source of information in archaeological endeavors.  The wealth of knowledge obtained from burial assemblages provides insights into culture; migratory patterns; contact and trade; social complexities and population dynamics; familial relationships, and ancestral health.  Archaeology attempts to reconstruct the particulars of past populations through their material remains and, complementary to it, bioarchaeological studies comprise a deeper understanding of past populations through skeletal remains and integrates this understanding with adaptive changes to environment and culture. 

The main theme of this project will be to use these approaches to produce a working body of knowledge about the Gepid populations in Transylvania (3rd -5th centuries C.E.). This period in history represents a poorly understood socially and politically dynamic exchange of power structure in the Balkans: namely the advent of the Hunnic state, the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Plague of Justinian, and the ushering of the Middle Ages.

For the 2013 field season, we will be examining and analysing skeletal remains belonging to the Gepid culture, excavated from the Northeastern plains of Transylvania.  All analytical work will take place in the National History Museum of Transylvania (MNIT), located in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. If available, students will also have the opportunity to experience bioarchaeological fieldwork.

In addition to the analytical component, lectures will be given by TBRG archaeological and museum staff on:

  • the history of the culture and the region as well as practical bioarchaeological concepts including basic osteology and standard recording techniques;
  • establishing MNI;
  • ageing and sexing of adults and non-adults;
  • non-metric traits and normal variation;
  • biomechanics; 
  • palaeopathology;
  • and advanced methodologies including histology, radiography, stable isotope analyses, and ancient DNA and bacterial DNA extraction and amplification.

Students are not necessarily required to have any bioarchaeological/osteological experience but those who do will be in good stead to complete the course. Academic credit is available at no extra charge but paperwork must be initiated with the home university by the student.

Although the focus of this field school is core bioarchaeological investigations of the Gepids in Transylvania, we are open to a limited number of collaborative research inquiries by those wishing to conduct post-grad research on other themes or cultures.

Please do enquire by e-mail to if you wish to apply, have any questions, or would like to be put in contact with past students.

***Please note, we are the only field school in Transylvania taught by bioarchaeologists and osteologists with formal training.***

Period(s) of Occupation: Late Roman/Early Medieval

Bioarchaeology, Palaeopathology,

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 5 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

The cost of the field includes 3-star accommodation with wi-fi at Pensiunea Brici for 5 weeks, airport transfers to and from Cluj-Napoca International Airport, and incidentals including materials and lab fees. Students are responsible for their own meals but will have a private kitchen at their disposal. 
Optional field trips will be offered at an additional low price to explore the beautiful Transylvanian countryside, caves, archaeological sites, and glacial lakes. Of course a trip to Dracula’s real castle and birthplace will be available too! 

$1,800 or 1100 GBP

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
See project description
Number of credits offered 6


Contact Information
Transylvania Bioarchaeology Research Group
Brackenbury, #5
United Kingdom
Recommended Bibliography: 

Will be assigned upon acceptance