1Department of Geography & Anthropology, Louisiana State University, 2Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley, 3Department of Anthropology, California State University, Los Angeles, 4Anthropology Department, Binghamton University, 5Forensic Science Program, George Mason University, 6Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 7ArchaeoTek, BioArch Canada, 8Haáz Rezső Museum, Romania, 9Forensic Science Program, Western Carolina University
April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom
In Transylvania, ossuaries are commonly associated with medieval Catholic churches. These secondary burials allowed for continued occupancy of consecrated ground while opening new space for primary interments in the church graveyard. The site at Brădești (Fenyéd), Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania contains an example of one such church, graveyard, and ossuary. Remains were removed from the ossuary in 2013 and subsequently curated and analyzed over several field seasons. Analysis yielded a minimum number of individuals (MNI) of 158 from the left petrous portion (using MNI from White, 1953) and 145 from the linea aspera of the left femur (Mack et al., 2016). Fragmentation analysis (Lambacher et al., 2016) revealed the following percent completeness for each element: radii 22.59% (n=172), ulnae 23.15% (n=210), humeri 18.17% (n=554), femora 12.62% (n=820), tibiae 12.21% (n=524), and mandibles 56.68% (n=182). Ultimately, more individuals were observed in the ossuary than the number of burials (n=54) in the Brădești (Fenyéd) graveyard. Results of this preliminary analysis provide a greater understanding of the extent to which the site was used over time, while elucidating the preservation and taphonomy of skeletal elements in ossuaries, especially regarding human agency over these processes. The results also show the effectiveness of landmark analysis when assessing MNI in an extremely commingled and fragmented context. In the future, the results of the present study could be compared to a fragmentation analysis of the primary interments at the site to quantify the taphonomic effects of secondary burial in one population.