An Undergraduate Abroad 2: Cemetery Excavations in Romania

By Harley Burgis

3This summer I spent three weeks in Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania learning how to excavate human skeletal remains. I worked at Valeni (Patakfalva), a medieval church and cemetery site. Although the modern cemetery is slowly encroaching the medieval one, the site is still more or less intact. Our job was to excavate the human remains from three different trenches, so that the site directors could learn more about the history of the people who inhabited this part of Romania and see how they are linked to present day populations in the area. I specifically spent the whole three weeks excavating a juvenile. This was very taxing, because of three reasons: 1) because of the2 sun and incessant heat, I was working with baked out clay, 2) there was so much back fill bone on top that was not associated with the individual, and 3) I had to use wooden picks to do the entire excavation, because of how fragile juvenile bones are and how close the bones were together. After I finished excavating the individual, I learned how to map the bones, which was a very meticulous task. In the end, I had a great time in Romania, I met amazing people from all over the world, and I learned a lot about the culture there and how to excavate human remains.

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