Emphasis: , bioarchaeology, Roman skeletal remains, forensic pathologies, museum accessioning techniques

Osteology Project of the Roman Necropolis of Torre de Palma


Lisbon, Portugal

Maia M. Langley, Archaeologist

Mary Lucas Powell, Physical Anthropologist

May 21 to June 29, 2007

Torre de Palma is documented as being the largest Roman villa in Iberia. Because of its proximity to a deposit of limestone, the osteological material from this site is also well preserved. Unfortunately, the proveniences of the osteological material from this site were lost after the first campaigns here.

In the summers of 1996 and 2000, Dr. Mary Lucas Powell conducted a rigorous and systematic study of all the osteological material from the cemeteries and church at the site of Torre de Palma.

To date the research from this project has yielded a wealth of important information regarding the “mortuary context of the burials, the demographic profile [of the site], adult stature and sexual dimorphism, bone chemistry analysis of stable isotopes, and [a] selected examples of skeletal pathology.” (Powell: preliminary report, 2002).

In 2000, Maia Langley began the accessioning of the collection as well as a transcription and translation of the notes from Dr. Manuel Heleno’s campaigns at this site. In 2002-2005, the artifacts from both collections were accessioned and fused in a database and with the consultation of the notes from the museum, many of the formerly lost proveniences from this site were put back into context.

This project aims to reunite the osteological material with the tombs and grave goods by using the field photographs and maps from the funerary areas at Torre de Palma. As well, a revision of the materials must be conducted.

Seven interns will be accepted into this program and will learn the essentials in cataloging and inventorying a osteological collection. The age, stature, sex, number of individuals, and the paleopathology from the three necropoleis here will be studied and the methodologies, scientific observations and documentation that are involved will be explained thoroughly to the interns.


Program fee with housing included: € 1,100 per 3 week session, € 1,600 per 6 week session

Application for Torre de Palma

AIA Listing: http://www.archaeological.org/webinfo.php?page=10037&entrynumber=847

Accomodations and tuition included in fees. Meals and transportation are not covered.  (please read below for the definition of accomodations)

ac·com·mo·da·tion ( ə?-kŏom'ə?-dāa'shə?n) n.

  • 1. The act of accommodating or the state of being accommodated; adjustment.
  • 2. Something that meets a need; a convenience.
  • accommodations
    • Room and board; lodgings.
    • A seat, compartment, or room on a public vehicle.
  • 3. Reconciliation or settlement of opposing views.
  • 4. Physiology. The automatic adjustment in the focal length of the lens of the eye to permit retinal focus of images of objects at varying distances.
  • 5. A financial favor, such as a loan.