Health, disease and lifestyle in the past

Course content

This two-week summer school will provide students with a broad but detailed introduction to scientific methodologies in osteoarchaeology (the scientific study of skeletal material excavated at archaeological sites) to answer questions about our health, disease, and lifestyle in the past. In order to answer such questions, skills to identify skeletal material are required. The course will therefore focus on both human and animal remains. The scientific investigation of human skeletal remains gives unique insights into human history, demographic shifts, environmental changes, living conditions, migrations, pathologies, and the spread of diseases, as these all leave traces on the skeleton. Animal remains provide evidence on human food sources, activities, and the environment and climate in the past.

Population density and migrations have had an impact on spread of vira, bacteria, and parasites through thousands of years. Studying pathogens, proteomics and diet of past peoples are important for our understanding of the development of diseases and health at the individual and the population level.

Education

MSc in Public Health Science - elective summer course

MSc in Global Health - elective summer course

The course goals target a broad group of students from amongst others: Biology, Geology, Public health, Archaeology, History, Social Anthropology, Bioscience, Veterinary medicine, and Medicine

Learning outcome

The course consists of five modules covering various aspects of human and animal remains and how past human and animal populations interacted at a macro- and micro-level with focus on health, disease, lifestyle, and diet.

During the course, the students will learn how to “read” bones including age and sex of the human remains, identify skeletal pathologies, identify animal remains, including species, age and sex.

The students will be introduced to various cross-disciplinary approaches to gain a deeper insight into past health including palaeogenomics, pathogens, palaeoproteomics and ZooMS and isotope analysis.

The course will include group work, oral presentations and group assignments and students will be evaluated individually and in groups during the course.

At the end of the course the students are expected to know the following within the discipline of osteoarchaeology:

 

Learning outcome

Knowledge

  • Demonstrate an overview of the skeletal anatomy of mammals (human and animal) with insights into morphological adaptations and species-specific characters
  • Be able to describe osteoarchaeological methods and analyses of disease and causes of disease
  • Have theoretical knowledge of the advantages and pitfalls in the use of different biomolecular approaches to species identification and identification of pathogens    


Skills    

  • Be able to carry out species identification of the most common mammalian domesticates 
  • Can produce biological profile of human remains and identify skeletal pathologies
  • Can critically evaluate new methodologies within the areas of osteoarchaeology and archaeological sciences
  • Are able critically to evaluate osteoarchaeological questions and argue for the best possible set of methods    
     

Competences    

  • Understand the potential of various osteoarchaeological methodologies
  • Evaluate osteoarchaeological results with their strengths and pitfalls    
  • Enter cross-disciplinary collaborations
  • Suggest the best strategy for studies of the health of past populations

Lectures will include brief theoretical classes, followed by practical “hands on” activities such as basic laboratory exercises, identification and studies of skeletal material, and discussion fora of the presented methodologies. Lecturers will make use of the teaching platform to share study material, videos etc. for discussion in class (flipped classroom).

Pensum lists will be uploaded in advance of the course start.

Oral
Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
ECTS
10 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Written assignment
Evaluation of 1 written assignment and 2 oral presentations. The evaluation is based on an overall assessment of the two sub-parts.
Aid
All aids allowed
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

In order to pass the exam, the student must be able to:

Knowledge

  • Demonstrate an overview of the skeletal anatomy of mammals (human and animal) with insights into morphological adaptations and species-specific characters
  • Be able to describe osteoarchaeological methods and analyses of disease and causes of disease
  • Have theoretical knowledge of the advantages and pitfalls in the use of different biomolecular approaches to species identification and identification of pathogens    


Skills    

  • Be able to carry out species identification of the most common mammalian domesticates 
  • Can produce biological profile of human remains and identify skeletal pathologies
  • Can critically evaluate new methodologies within the areas of osteoarchaeology and archaeological sciences
  • Are able critically to evaluate osteoarchaeological questions and argue for the best possible set of methods    
     

Competences    

  • Understand the potential of various osteoarchaeological methodologies
  • Evaluate osteoarchaeological results with their strengths and pitfalls    
  • Enter cross-disciplinary collaborations
  • Suggest the best strategy for studies of the health of past populations

Short courses / Summer school

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 160
  • Exam
  • 75
  • English
  • 275