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Learning about the Past with Fragments from the Fire: Student Research on an NSF-REU Field School

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Significant population increases, the intensification of craft production and new forms of agricultural output characterize a major transition between the 18th and 17th century BC on the Great Hungarian Plain. Many archaeologists consider these changes hallmarks of an emerging social class. Yet research from different parts of Eastern Europe suggests that societies were organized in a variety of ways during this regional florescence. This session describes recent investigations into a Bronze Age community buried at the cemetery of Békés Jégvermi-kert (Békés 103) in Eastern Hungary. The project includes an international team of undergraduate students funded by the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program and the Central European Institute at Quinnipiac University. During the 2016 summer lab season a team of 11 students conducted independent research projects on a range of datasets from the cemetery and surrounding area, focused on understanding patterns in trade, identity, and cremation burial practice. In this session the students present their findings related to the site, the funerary customs, and how the cemetery population fit into the trade, population movement, and new identities emerging in Bronze Age Europe during the mid-second millenium.


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  • Documents (10)

Documents

  • Bone calcination of different age groups in cremations from Bronze Age Hungary (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Heleinna Cruz. Jaime Ullinger. László Paja.

    Bronze Age Hungary saw the advancement of trade which may have been a cause of the movement from egalitarian societies to more complex societies with increasing social inequality. Social inequality between regions in Hungary may be reflected in variation among funeral customs. Excavations from Békés 103, a Bronze Age cemetery in south-eastern Hungary, have uncovered 68 burials, most of which are cremations. This study focuses on color analysis (identified by Munsell Soil Color Charts) of the...

  • Burning questions about preservation: an investigation of cremated bone crystallinity in a Bronze Age cemetery (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Emily Quarato. Julia Giblin.

    The elemental and isotopic analysis of human skeletal remains has greatly added to our understanding of diet, mobility, and social variability in prehistoric societies. For studies of this nature, it is critical to evaluate the preservation of the skeletal material prior to analysis to make sure that taphonomic processes have not affected the original chemical signatures. Calcined bone (usually produced from cremation burial practices) is generally avoided for chemical analysis due to heat...

  • Ceramics provenience: chemical analysis of ceramics and clays in Eastern Hungary via LA-ICP-MS (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Craig Jensen. Mark Golitko.

    This project explores the provenience of ceramics found at the Bronze Age Békés 103 cemetery. By answering the question of where these ceramics came from, it is possible to hypothesize which Bronze Age communities used the cemetery. To do this, clays were collected throughout Eastern Hungary for chemical analysis. Clay is often found along river banks, but many modern rivers may have been polluted. Instead, paleo-meanders of modern rivers were chosen as collection sites; these were identified...

  • Death Games: exploring the Békés 103 cemetery using 3D technology (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Gustavo Cerquera Benjumea. Hamima Halim.

    3D modelling has become an important tool in the distribution and analysis of archaeological data. This technology also has the potential to make archaeological information more widely available to the public. The goal of this project was to develop an interactive 3D environment based on the Békés 103 cemetery in the Körös region of eastern Hungary. This environment allows users to navigate the site in the first person while examining the burial practices of the Bronze Age people who populated...

  • An evaluation of preservation, sex, and age using cremains weight and volume from a Bronze Age cemetery in Hungary (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Pranavi Ramireddy. Julia Giblin. Jaime Ullinger. László Paja.

    In well-preserved osteoarchaeological samples, numerous anthropological methods are employed to determine age at death, biological sex, diet, and pathologies. However, with cremated human bone (cremains), determining demographic information is complicated by fragmentation and post-depositional damage. A simple way to assess variability in demographics, taphonomy, and burial treatment in cremains is to measure total bone weight and volume, which can then be examined in light of sex, age-at-death,...

  • An examination of changing Copper and Bronze Age trade networks in the Körös River Valley, Southeast Hungary (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Anna Szigeti. Virág Varga. Viktória Kiss. Attila Gyucha.

    Metal is a unique raw material which societies in some parts of southeastern Europe have been exploiting since the Middle Neolithic (5500/5400-5000/4900 BCE). As previous studies in various parts of the world suggest, the acquisition and circulation of metal objects, as well as the ability to work metal have been important in the development of prehistoric societies. In our study, we compared the distribution of metal artifacts during the Hungarian Copper Age (4500/4400-2800/2700 BCE) and Bronze...

  • Gone to Pot: Stylistic Breaks in a Radiocarbon-based Ceramic Chronology for the Eastern Hungarian Bronze Age (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Paul R. Duffy. Györgyi Parditka. Justine Tynan. Ádám Balázs.

    The Great Hungarian Plain is densely populated with fortified tell sites dating to the second millennium BC. At the end of the Middle Bronze Age (c.1400 BC), however, these settlements were abandoned. Traditionally, archaeologists argued that locals were run off by invading Tumulus culture groups or suffered an environmental disaster. The lack of non-tell contexts and radiocarbon dates bridging this transition precluded an understanding of what changed after the tells were abandoned, and what...

  • Identifying pre-incineration state from heat-induced fracture and warping patterns found on human cremains in a Hungarian Bronze Age cemetery (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Audrey Choi. Jaime Ullinger. László Paja.

    Attempts to determine the status of human remains prior to their final deposition are complicated in the analysis of cremains. Forensic and archaeological studies, however, have advocated for the interpretation of heat-induced fracture and warping patterns as indicators of the pre-incineration state of the body and of the characteristics of the funeral fire. The purpose of this research is to examine the possible internal social structures of a Bronze Age population in the Körös region of...

  • Spatial analysis and sampling techniques of cremated remains from Bronze Age cremation urns in southeast Hungary (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Kylie Williamson. Julia Giblin. Jaime Ullinger. László Paja.

    Since 2011, members of the Bronze Age Körös Off-Tell Archaeology (BAKOTA) Project have excavated 57 cremation urns from the Békés 103 site in Southeast Hungary. This exploratory study seeks to examine the percentages of cranial and postcranial elements present in microstratigraphic levels in order to better understand the spatial distribution of bones within the burial urns. As a way to explore new approaches, two sampling methods were employed for the analysis of three burials. The first...

  • Spiraling like a Boss: exploring elements of Bronze Age ceramic style at the micro-regional level (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Robert Barlow. Hajnal Szász. Györgyi Parditka. Paul R. Duffy.

    Fortified tell site excavations in the 20th century formed the basis for construction of a Bronze Age chronology in the Carpathian Basin. Typological and stylistic elements observed on these sites were used to create archaeological cultures for large areas, whose distributions changed over time. However, the use of large archaeological groups obviously masks internal regional variation, both chronologically and stylistically. Different river-valleys, as micro-regions, may have formed the basis...

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America