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

Location: Odorheiu Secuiesc, Harghita, Romania

July 3, 2016 to July 30, 2016

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Program Type

Field school



Archaeological Techniques and Research Centre (Canada) and Haaz Rezso Museum (Romania)

Project Director:

Dr. Jonathan Bethard (Boston University School of Medicine); and Dr. Zsolt Nyaradi (Haaz Rezso Museum, Romania)

Project Description

During the 17th century, Europe redefined itself spiritually, culturally and politically. The Early Modern period was born out of one of the greatest crises of the old world as European identity was reshaped at all levels. During our 2013 season, we uncovered a very unique phenomenon: the inside of the 17th century churches in the region of Odorheiu Secuiesc, in the heart of Transylvania (Romania), was suddenly dedicated almost exclusively to infant burials. Our initial study of burials in the church in Teleac/Telekfakva showed one adult, 69 juveniles out of which 48 were of preterm or fetal age. This context created the perfect environment to expand our project to an exclusively children perspective.

Recent contributions to bioarchaeological scholarship have devoted considerable treatment to the analysis of children skeletons from both archaeological and contemporary (i.e., forensic) contexts. The aim of this workshop is to provide participants with an intensive review of juvenile osteology and an overview of the ways in which this kind of unique information is interpreted by bioarchaeologists. During the workshop, participants will have the chance to study the growth and development of the human skeleton across various juvenile age cohorts, ranging from prenatal to preadult. The exceptionally well preserved skeletal remains uncovered offer a unique study opportunity.

The project is designed to offer intensive hands-on experience to both students and non-credit participants. It is a research workshop which culminates with the presentation of each set of results at the Fourth International Student Colloquium on Osteology and Bioarchaeology hosted by the Haaz Rezso Museum. Participants who want to pursue and expand their summer research are encouraged to present their papers at the SAA, AAPA and CAPA.

Period(s) of Occupation: Middle Ages

Osteological laboratory analysis of exceptionally well preserved juvenile remains, ranging from prenatal to preadult.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 4 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
Basic knowledge of human morphology and anatomy prefered.

Room and Board Arrangements

Students and volunteers will be housed in double or triple occupancy rooms within walking distance from downtown Odorheiu Secuiesc and the Museum, in a newly renovated hotel. A small kitchen is available to students and volunteers. Odorheiu has a many pubs, restaurants and fast food joints within a few minute walk. One can readily enjoy very good pub fare as well as Romanian traditional cuisine, accompanied with an assortment of great local wines or beer. There are plenty of stores and supermarkets, and a couple of real farmers' markets that can fulfill almost any need.


Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
Dr. Jonathan Bethard
735 Washington Street #3
Recommended Bibliography: 

Al-Qahtani, S.J., Hector, M.P., & Liversidge H.M. 2010. The London Atlas of human tooth development and eruption. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 142(3): 481-490.

Baker, B.J, Dupras T.L., & Tocheri M.W. 2005. The Osteology of Infants and Children. Texas A&M University Press.

Halcrow, S.E. & N. Tayles. 2008. The Bioarchaeological Investigation of Childhood and Social Age: Problems and Prospects. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 15:190-215.

Lewis, M.E. 2007. The Bioarchaeology of Children: Perspectives from Biological and Forensic Anthropology. Cambridge University Press

Pokines, J.T. & S.A. Symes. 2013. Manual of Forensic Taphonomy. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Schaefer, M.C.,  Scheuer, L. & S. Black. 2009. Juvenile Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual. Elsevier.

Scheuer, L. & S. Black. 2000. Developmental Juvenile Osteology. Academic Press, London.