Claudia RADU / Norbert SZEREDAI / Demjen ANDREA / Oana PONTA
(Molecular Biology Center (Interdisciplinary Research Institute in Bio-Nano Sciences, Babes-Bolyai University), Cluj-Napoca, Romania)

Keywords: paleopathology, demography, bioarchaeology, Romania

Our presentation focuses on the study of the human remains found in the Late Medieval/Early Modern cemetery of the Romano-Catholic Church from Gheorgheni (Romania). The funerary assemblage is composed from two samples: the first containing human commingled remains (MNI=57), and the second representing the individual burials (N=27). For the former we inferred the minimum number of individuals (MNI) by applying standardized methods for dealing with human commingled remains (Adams, Konigsberg 2004). Moreover, the skeletal elements were analysed in order to determine paleodemographic and paleopathological data. The individuals from the undisturbed graves were analysed in terms of representativeness and preservation, estimation of age at death, sex determination, paleopathological investigations, traumas and fractures analysis, and metric measurements. Furthermore, the resulting data for the entire skeletal assemblage was explored from four directions: the paleodemographic profile of the population, evidences of interpersonal violence, nutritional and occupational stress indicators, and individual pathologies.  Among the latter, there were osteochondritis dissecans, elongated styloid process (Eagle’s syndrome), and lytic lesions. Trauma and fracture study was done using macroscopical and microscopical observations, but also XRD analyses. Cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, and linear enamel hypoplasia were used as nutritional stress indicators. Osteoarthritis and Schmorl’s nodules were analysed both for their presence and degree of severity. Finally, the results were corroborated with historical data from existing documents written in the same period in which the cemetery was functioning. This multidisciplinary approach, combining methods and data from physical anthropology, paleopathology, physics, and ethnographic and historical archives, allowed us to create a new image of the population inhabiting the town of Gheorgheni and assess their life-quality levels.

This study was funded in the frame of PCCA_1153/2011_P1 project.