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Bones4Culture

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Interreg4a Project. Gefördert aus INTERREG 4A Syddanmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N. mit Mitteln des Europäischen Fonds für regionale Entwicklung.

InterregLogoInterview with Prof. Jesper Lier Boldsen, ADBOU, Syddansk Universitet Odense, on his research results (Danish)

Interview mit Prof. Jesper Lier Boldsen, ADBOU, Syddansk Universitet Odense, zu seinen Forschungsergebnissen (German)

Interview with Prof. Kaare Lund Rasmussen, CHART Team, Syddansk Universitet Odense, on his research results (Danish)

Interview mit Prof. Kaare Lund Rasmussen, CHART Team, Syddansk Universitet Odense, zu seinen Forschungsergebnissen (German)

Present day cEU Logoommunication of research results is not just aiming at fellow scientists. In contemporary research design it is also mandatory to incorporate public outreach beyond the traditional scientific publications and presentations. A paramount example of this is the Bones4Culture project where scientific staff and museum professionals from the Foundation of Schleswig-Holsteinian State Museums Schloss Gottorf collaborate with researchers from the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), the Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) and Kiel University (CAU) to employ cutting edge technology to investigate and instantly disseminate new knowledge about the identity and history of the ordinary medieval and renaissance population of Schleswig town.

Bones4Culture ProbenentnahmeBones4Culture is a three-year long project financed by the INTERREG 4A Syddanmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N programme of the European Regional Development Fund. Leadpartner of the project is Prof. Dr. Jesper Lier Boldsen from the Institute of Forensic Medicine, ADBOU, at the University of Southern Denmark.

The purpose of the project is to find new ways of acquiring information about the medieval population in the border region between Denmark and Germany. During the next three years approximately 1000 skeletons will be examined and samples will be taken from ca. 350 skeletons. The skeletal material in question comes largely from the medieval town of Schleswig and is stored in the magazines of the Archaeological State Museum. The bone samples will be subjected to a selection of analytical techniques carried out in Odense and Kiel. An entirely new sampling strategy and new ways of performing the analyses will contribute to produce a so-called "Chemical Life History". Age, diseases, occupation, and place of settlement will be mapped at various times in the life of the individual human beings. The project will contribute to the development of anthropology, forensic science, and archaeometry in a new and exciting way. The project will also reach out to our colleagues in archaeology, history, epidemiology and human biology.

The final purpose of the Bones4Culture project is to inform the inhabitants of the border region as well as visiting tourists about the identity of the medieval and renaissance population of Schleswig town. Schleswig has historically been both German and Danish and is a typical exponent of the medieval population of the Schleswig-Holsteinian Duchies. The border area between Germany and Denmark and the Duchies has had a very turbulent history with many ethnic and political conflicts and the area is now one of the most peaceful border areas in Europe. The project will show how our ancestors lived in our region. How was life for them? Where did they come from? Were they born and raised in Schleswig town – or were they more mobile and came from other parts of Germany, Denmark or even farther away?

The project started in July 2011 and already now the anthropological investigations is well under way. Human skeletal remains have been analyzed from five different cemeteries in Schleswig. Two of these cemeteries (Dominikaner and St. Johannis Kloster) can be characterized as monastic cemeteries, two (St. Nicolai and Rathaus Markt) can be characterized as city cemeteries, and the last (St. Clemens) can be characterized as a suburban cemetery.

A total of 722 skeletons have been examined and yielded information on age and sex of the individual. In addition to these data it has been possible to collect data on leprosy on 350 adult skeletons, on syphilis related conditions on 404 adult skeletons and on tuberculosis on 300 adult skeletons. So far only the leprosy and demographic data have been subjected to preliminary analysis.

From these analyses it appears that leprosy was a very common disease in medieval Schleswig. Four of the cemeteries analyzed, St. Clemens, Rathaus Markt, St. Nicolai and Dominikaner Kloster, showed leprosy frequencies among the dead that clustered between 35 % and 44 %. The frequencies in these cemeteries were not statistically significantly different. The fifth cemetery, Johannes Kloster, showed the significantly lower frequency of 9 %. This difference might be a reflection of a later average dating within the Middle Ages of the Johannes Kloster burials than of the burials in the four other cemeteries.

The demographic data also show interesting patterns. In the two monastic cemeteries, Dominikaner and Johannes Kloster, there are twice as many adult men as adult women buried. In the remaining cemeteries there is much more equal distribution of the sexes. These paleoepidemiological and paleodemographic data will form the basis for selecting skeletons to be sampled for further chemical analyses. These analyses will be initiated in 2012 and act as a screening procedure for the selection of individuals to be further subjected to Sr-isotope analysis and radiocarbon dating.

The project on the website of the Syddansk Universitet Odense

Middelalder-skeletter fortæller barsk historie om vores forfædre

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