Symposia and workshops

If you wish your abstract to be considered for one of the symposiums or workshop listed below, please choose relevant symposium/workshop topic in the abstract submission form.

Symposium | Exploring Intersections of Diet, Health, and Disease: Approaches to Studying Nutrition in the Past

Sammantha Holder, Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia, Tosha L. Dupras, Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida

There is a synergistic relationship between diet, health, and disease. Diets that provide adequate nutritional quality and quantity contribute positively to health, whereas inadequate diets increase susceptibility to acute and chronic diseases. The human skeleton provides the opportunity to explore these relationships over the life course as bone is a plastic tissue that adapts to external stresses and strains. Bioarchaeologists and paleopathologists integrate different types of data (e.g., isotopic, macro- and micro-scopic, molecular, imaging, etc.) from the skeleton that can be used to reconstruct diet and differentially diagnose disease. Together with cultural context, diet and disease can be used to explore nutrition and its relationship to morbidity and mortality in past populations. This symposium brings together current research on bioarchaeological and paleopathological approaches to studying nutrition in the past. Subjects of interest include advances in or integration of analytical methods, connections between medicine and paleopathology in the study of nutrition, theoretical issues of nutrition, and individuals or groups with known histories of inadequate nutrition.

Symposium | Paleoimaging: From the Field to the Experimental Lab and Vice Versa

Patrick Eppenberger, Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, Medical Faculty, University of Zurich, Switzerland, Alexander Barthelmie, Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, Medical Faculty, University of Zurich, Switzerland, Milsav Cavka Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University Hospital Centre "Zagreb" and School of Medicine, Chair of Social Medicine and Organization of Healthcare, University Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia, Frank Rühli,  Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, Medical Faculty, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Non-invasive diagnostic modalities are becoming more and more important in modern paleopathological research due to ethical and sustainability concerns. Furthermore, over the last decades, improved image-processing and post-processing abilities have become available. New technologies such as backscatter or terahertz imaging are just some of them. This symposium aims to cover both latest emerging technologies as well as the need for basic guideline-driven conventional imaging. A major focus will be on the need for evidence-based research rather than the presentation of single, speculative cases. Therefore, studies using comparative modern reference series or experimental feasibility studies shall also be presented. A specific focus shall be on work done in the field and in non-clinical settings, respectively; this includes recommendations for practical technical settings and best imaging work-flows. Finally - to highlight the general importance of diagnostic imaging in multi-modality study designs – we highly encourage the presentation of larger interdisciplinary projects (e.g., bio-cultural archeological research).

Symposium | Paleopathology and the Stockholm Paradigm: Past Evidence of Climate Change and Emerging Diseases 


Karl Reinhard, Dan Brooks

Until now, understanding the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases in context of climate change was limited by poor understanding of parasite and pathogen evolutionary potential. A new perspective, The Stockholm Paradigm, was published in 2019 and presents a greater understanding of the evolutionary bases of parasite host switching. There are several themes of the Stockholm Paradigm that can be addressed by archaeological investigations. For example, assessment of parasite-human responses to past cyclic climate variation can predict future challenges of infection and disease. Past human development such as population aggregation and conflict had emergent and reemergent infection implications. The emergence of novel parasites in the modern world has analogies in the archaeological record. Past population movements and trade altered patterns of infection just as today. Archaeology can show where parasites occurred in the past and where they are likely to occur in the future. Importantly, when paleopathology of parasitism utilized both gross pathology and molecular applications, the details of initial emergence of a pathogen can be related through time to genetic adaptations to humans. Examples of parasite adaptation to human have been found in the archaeological record. If we become more aware of parasite evolutionary potential, we are likely to uncover more evidence from archaeology. This symposium presents examples of research into this topic from a global perspective.

Symposium | These Bones of Mine: Considering Issues on the Display of Human Remains in Museums 

Chryssi Bourbou, Ephorate of Antiquities of Chania, Hellenic Ministry of Culture, University of Fribourg


Human remains, silent witnesses of our ancestors, of their pains and their privations, constitute an invaluable source of information, which can help us to better understand life in the past, the causes of infant mortality, diseases, dietary habits, population mobility and the interaction between humans and their natural and cultural environment. Few cultural and educational institutions escape the presence of human remains. Their integration into our cultural heritage introduces specific considerations on their scientific, philosophical, symbolic and ethical aspect that find different answers depending on the country and the social sensitivities.

In this context, the researcher responsible for transmitting their scientific and educational value is faced with a difficult reality when it comes to their study and display to the general public. Conscious or not, the visitor who sees human remains in a museum, is always confronted with himself, his own body, his own history, his own mortality. In which way, though, scientific information discovers its dissemination paths to the wider public? How can human remains be the theme of an exhibition without arousing anxiety or morbid thoughts? How can we succeed in transmitting the scientific knowledge in a clear and comprehensible way without giving an impression either cold or sensational of a cabinet of merely curiosities? Can human remains form the departure line and filter through which the public can search for its bonds with the past? Is it appropriate and feasible to display human skeletal remains in permanent and/or temporary exhibitions at archaeological museums as an educational locus for transmitting scientific information and its relevance to modern life? How can scientific knowledge be tailored to different target groups without sensationalizing, but through carefully balancing ethical considerations and current interdisciplinary methods, leaving space for further associations and connections?

Taking in account this problematic, the purpose of this session is to thoroughly address through specific topics and experiences the issues around the optimal study, curation and presentation of human remains, by opening a wider reflection on the question of the dissemination of their scientific and symbolic value to the general public.

Symposium | The Centenary of Arthur Aufderheide's Birth (1922 - 2022)


Kenneth Nystrom (State University of New  York at New Paltz, USA), Dario Piombino-Mascali (Vilnius University, Lithuania) and Jane Buikstra (Arizona State University, USA)


This year would mark the 100th birthday of prominent paleopathologist, and mummy specialist Dr. Arthur Aufderheide, whose role was vital in the development of modern mummy science. Aufderheide was a medical doctor specializing in pathology before pursuing his interests in the study of ancient disease in the 1970s. An author of four books and over 100 scientific papers, he also contributed to the establishment of the World Committee of Mummy Studies. Hence, this symposium will be dedicated to his figure, to his numerous achievements, and to his legacy. Scholars from different continents will gather and commemorate Art and his wife Mary, his contribution to paleoepidemiology, as well as his mentorship towards early career researchers.

Workshop | Paleopathology, Disability and Care


Ileana Micarelli, Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza, University of Rome; Mary Anne Tafuri, Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza, University of Rome


The past decade has seen growing interest in the ways disability and care were experienced in the past. Although to date most work in this area has been undertaken by prehistorians, a 2019 symposium on disability and care in Medieval times demonstrated the richness of theory and data available from the classical and post-classical world. This session seeks to bring together researchers from all time periods and cultures to build on this beginning, expanding aims, methods and perspectives in the field. In past times, dealing with the consequences of disease or injury, often caused or exacerbated by environmental and/or social constraints, placed significant demands on individuals, their families and their communities. How can we identify the likely impacts of pathology?  Who received care? Who provided care? How were short-term needs met and longer-term caregiving sustained? How were people with visible impairments treated? How successful was the care available, and what might difference in access to care (and type of care provided) suggest about contemporary norms and values?  Addressing questions such as these will deepen our understanding of past disability and care, a goal now part of a new agenda in bioarchaeology.

We envisage integrated poster and podium presentations and call for contributions which engage with and/or extend theory and methodology in this area of bioarchaeological research. Descriptive case studies of disability and care are welcome; these are integral to comprehending individual, ‘on the ground’ experience.

Hosted by

Institute of Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
Vilnius University

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