Colin Quinn

Articles co-authored by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Colin Quinn were recently published in a special issue of the journal Bioarchaeology International. He also co-edited the issue on “Living and Dying in Mountain Landscapes” with Jess Beck of Vassar College.

The issue brings together scholars who study the bioarchaeology (the study of people’s lived experiences through their bodies and skeletonized remains) of people living in mountain landscapes. Quinn said this publication seeks to draw attention to the special context of how people lived, and ultimately died, in mountainous and highland landscapes.

He said that “mountain landscapes are often considered marginal — but the challenges of these mountain landscapes can help us better understand how people in the past adapted to, and modified, environmentally marginal landscapes. These insights help us better understand a whole range of issues, such as human responses to climate change and how people’s behavior is mediated through our environment.”

In an introductory article, Quinn and Beck outlined the theoretical and methodological challenges and opportunities for the bioarchaeology of communities in mountain landscapes.

In a case study article titled “Bioarchaeology and Mountain Landscapes in Transylvania’s Golden Quadrangle,” Quinn, Beck, and Horia Ciugudean of Romania’s Muzeul National al Unirii-Alba Iulia presented the first bioarchaeological analysis of Bronze Age communities in the Apuseni Mountains of southwest Transylvania.

Quinn said that southwest Transylvania was an important region for procuring metal, which helped fuel the rise of inequality in Bronze Age Europe, and that the group’s research demonstrates that there were minimal differences in the burial rites, health, trauma, and demography of people buried high in the mountains and in lowland areas.

The initial collection of samples for the project was aided by Jada Langston ’20, Lana Dorr ’21, and Sophia Coren ’21, who helped conduct fieldwork and lab work in Romania in 2018.

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