Symposia and workshops

We encourage conference participants to submit proposals for symposia and workshops which shall offer an opportunity to present and discuss research on a particular topic (half-day or less). Selected symposia and / or workshops will take place either in the main venue of the meeting or Faculty of Medicine (Vilnius University) if they include an educational component and hands-on teaching opportunity. 

Proposals should be sent to the Local Organizing Committee at 
Deadline for submission - March 31, 2020 April 30, 2020.

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

To see Workshop and Symposia schedule, please click HERE.

Symposium # 1 | Paleopathology, Disability and Care | Download poster
Date: August 23
Time: 11:00 - 12:30

Ileana Micarelli, Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza, University of Rome; Lorna Tilley, Australian National University; 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 dedicated 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 differences 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 as these are integral to comprehending individual, ‘on the ground’ experience, but may be best suited to a poster format.

Symposium # 2 | Exploring Intersections of Diet, Health, and Disease: Approaches to Studying Nutrition in the Past | Download poster
Date: August 21
Time: 13:30 - 15:30

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 # 3 | Paleopathology and the Stockholm Paradigm: Past Evidence of Climate Change and Emerging Diseases | Download poster
Date: August 22
Time: 11:00 - 13:00


Karl Reinhard, Dan Brooks

Until now, understanding the emergence and reemergence of infections 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.

Symposium # 4 | Paleoimaging: From the Field to the Experimental Lab and Vice Versa
Date: August 22
Time: 13:30 - 18:00

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 # 5 | These Bones of Mine: Considering Issues on the Display of Human Remains in Museums | Download poster
Date: August 23
Time: 13:30 - 15:30

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 museums escape the presence of human remains: museums of natural history, fine arts, archaeological, ethnographic, medical. 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 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 the target groups visiting museums without sensationalizing, but through a scenography that balances between 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 presentation of human remains in museums, by opening a wider reflection on the question of the dissemination of their scientific and symbolic value to the general public.

Workshop # 1 | Introducing the Index of Care Version 2
Date: August 20
Time: 14:00 - 17:00

Lorna Tilley, Australian National University; Ileana Micarelli, Department of Environmental Biology, University of Rome; Mary Anne Tafuri, Department of Environmental Biology, University of Rome

This workshop provides a hands-on introduction to Version 2 of the Index of Care. The Index (, published in 2014, is an open-access, cloud-based instrument supporting application of the bioarchaeology of care approach to the experience of disability and health-related care in the past.  Linked worksheets prompt consideration of potentially relevant evidence, operationalise key concepts such as ‘disability’ ‘care’ and ‘agency’, and encourage rigour and transparency; most items are open-ended, most information sought is qualitative, and most input is in text format.  The Index Version 2 retains the framework and goals of Version 1, but adds enhanced capabilities for data storage, information sharing between researchers, management of multiple subjects within the same record, and report production. Many improvements result from user feedback.

Workshop participants will be led through the updated Index of Care, and will be able to access the Index online in the session (internet access provided).  The Index developer, Tony Cameron, will be present to answer technical questions.  Participants may bring their own case study to the session, although this is not essential; while there will not be time to complete a case study, there will be the chance to generate a new record and explore data fields.  There will also be opportunities to discuss broader issues relating to the Index and to bioarchaeology of care research generally.

At the end of the workshop, participants should have a clear understanding of the purpose, design, possibilities and limitations of the Index of Care Version 2 and be able to navigate the Index of Care Version 2 with confidence.  Participants already conversant with the Index Version 1 should have a clear understanding of changes incorporated in Version 2.

The workshop will be limited to 25 participants, on a ‘first come / first served’ basis. No prior knowledge of Index is required, as principles and practicalities informing its design and application will be covered. Brief ‘Background Notes’ on both the bioarchaeology of care approach and the Index (Version 1) will be provided. If you wish to attend this workshop, please add "
Workshop: Introducing the Index of Care Version 2" as an extra order while filling the on-line registration form

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Institute of Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
Vilnius University

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