Under St. Stephenâs monastery lie a series of tombs constructed during the First Temple times (8th-7th century BCE) and subsequently used by the monastic community in the 5th -6th centuries CE. Eudociaâs monastery was destroyed in 614 during the Persian invasion, but a rich historical record can be found to document occupation of the site until the 19th century. In 1884 the French Dominicans purchased a portion of the former Byzantine compound and uncovered the crypt complex. Today the Dominican monastery and its associated French School for Biblical Archaeology sit atop the ancient complex.
Biocultural Model:The biocultural model integrates information from both the natural and the historical/archaeological records of a people into a holistic blueprint for studying the past. This approach has allowed a variety of disciplines to address questions related to political/economic change, social stratification, differential access to limited resources, childhood health and adaptability, occupational stress, demographic shifts, and quality of life issues such as longevity and health status.
For Byzantine St. Stephen's, the biological record has been gleaned from the 15,000+ human bones and fragments exhumed from one of the repositories in the crypt complex. Ongoing analysis of these remains has demonstrated a healthy, robust, largely male (96%) community whose members lived well into their 50s.
The cultural record has likewise been amassed from both historical documents and archaeological information available for this monastic compound, and for communities from the surrounding region. Pilgrimage and liturgical records, art and iconography, legal and medical documents have all contributed to our understanding of the cultural context, and so, to the biocultural setting.
click on image for enlarged version of model
include the original excavations of the Dominican founders, the comparative
regional record, and numerous fragments of material
culture found commingled with the bones at St. Stephen's. These objects
include pottery sherds, glass fragments, building materials, jewelry and
oil lamp portions (such as those seen above).
These artifacts, combined with fluoride analysis and radiocarbon dating,
of a subsample of remains have helped place the skeletal collection temporally
within the well-documented Byzantine occupation of the site.
|Pieces of material culture commingled w/the human remains. L-r: cross, oil lamp, glass vessel base, spike, painted sherd, oil lamp.|
This project exploits a rare convergence of materials and methods. The exceptional quality of the St. Stephenâs collection, and the enthusiastic support of the University of Notre Dame and both the French and American schools of archaeology in Jerusalem (L'École Biblique et Archéologique Française and the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research) provide a rich environment for this projectâs continued expansion.
St. Stephen's project thus provides a natural experiment for the applicability
of the biocultural method to a variety of disciplines, illustrating the
power of this approach for synthesizing information from the humanities,
natural, and social sciences. The overall goals of the St. Stephen's
research design include:
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LAST MODIFIED: Nov 14, 1999