Transylvanian Case Study in Non-Specific Stress:
Maura Griffith1, Jessica Filipeli2, Jonathan Bethard3, Andre Gonciar4, Zsolt Nyárádi 5
1Trinity College, Hartford CT 2Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver CO 3University South Florida, Tampa FL
4ArchaeoTek 5Haáz Rezsö Museum, Székelyudvarhely, Romania
Materials and Methods
Historical Context (Popa-Gorjanu, 2012)
•Throughout the middle ages and
Early Modern era Transylvania
underwent sociopolitical stress
•Ownership of the region passed
from Romania, to Hungary, the
Ottoman Empire, to the Habsburgs
•Religion and status fluctuated
during this time among Romanians,
Székelys, Hungarians, and Saxons
•Máréfalva, Harghita County,
•Máréfalva church underwent three
different building phases
•Sir-11 belongs to Gothic Period (12th
–16th century) of site
•Buried in a coffin in an east to west
orientation, which is suggestive of a
•Sir-11 (grave 11) excavated 7/10/2009
•Pubic symphysis and auricular surface were assessed following Todd and
Suchey-Brooks, Meindel and Lovejoy (Buikstra & Ubelaker, 1994)
•Tooth development (M3 present, though not fully developed) (Ubelaker, 1989;
AlQahanti et al., 2010)
•Epiphyseal fusion (Buikstra & Ubelaker, 1994)
•Auricular surface following Meindel and Lovejoy (Buikstra & Ubelaker, 1994)
•Stature estimation using femoral and humeral measurements calculated
following Trotter, 1970
Linear Enamel Hypoplasia
•Age at time of linear enamel hypoplasia formation calculated following
Goodman and Rose, 1990
Figure 3. Skeletal inventory of remains from Sir-11.Figure 4. Detail showing linear enamel hypoplasia (arrow).
Figure 5. Detail showing cribra orbitalia (arrow).
•16 –19 year old female presented several different indicators of non-specific
•These indicators cannot be attributed to a specific cause, however combined
can be used to make inferences about her environment
•Factors such as population growth, unequal access to resources, or
contaminated water can all lead to metabolic stress (Walker et al.,
•Walker et al., 2006 outlines the complicated relationship between
health and stature
•Stature of individual within average of region (Sládek et al., 2014)
•Cribra orbitalia has multiple causes
•restriction of red blood cell production from iron deficient
anemia (Walker et al., 2009)
•Chronic megaloblastic anemia caused by vitamin B12 (Walker et
•In order to make generalization about socioeconomic and political influences
on the population, a larger sample size is necessary
•This is particularly important in the Transylvania region of Romania,
which has suffered from a high degree of political and social upheaval
during its history and has been understudied from a bioarchaeological
MG was supported by a Trinity College Student Initiated Research Grant, and Dean of
Faculty Student Travel Grant. JF received contributions from the Human Identification Lab
at MSUD. MG and JF thank Dr. Jonathan Bethard and Donovan Adams for their support and
guidance throughout the project.
•Metabolic stress can impact growth and health
•Bioarchaeological evidence can be used to approximate health of an
individual, and population-level social and health trends
Figure 1. Site map of Máréfalva excavation. Sir-11 is
indicated with a purple box.
Figure 2. Map highlighting Romania and study site. Máréfalva marked with star. Inset map scale = 40 km, larger
map scale = 400 km. Maps generated using Google Maps.
•Between 16-19 years at time of death
•Estimated stature: 153.5 –162.5 cm
Non-Specific Indicators of Stress:
•Linear enamel hypoplasia formed
between 2 –6 years old
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Sladek, V., Machacek, J., Ruff, C., Schuplerova, E., Prichystalova, R., & Hora, M. (2014). Stature estimation from long bones in the Early Medieval population at Pohansko (Czech Republic): Applicability
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