Since October 2015, Belgium has its own society in osteology studies: Belgian OsteoArchaeology & Physical Anthropology Society, or BOAPAS. One year later, we already have 50 members, mostly researchers from both Flanders and Wallonia, specialized in physical anthropology, osteoarchaeology and/or archaeozoology, but we do welcome members from abroad, as well as people employed in the heritage sector.

Why:

  • We believe that knowing our past is important to assist in constructing our identity and culture in the present and in the future.
  • Our way to do so relies on a better knowledge of past populations and human behaviour through examining funerary practices, skeletal remains and the study of diseases in the past.
  • The analysis of human (and animal) skeletons unearthed from archaeological excavations provides a direct insight into past populations.
  • We consider that Belgium is in need of a structured organisation for osteology and physical anthropology that involves specialists, (future) students, archaeologists, heritage consultants, and any passionate person about bones!

How:

Our mission is to help to advance the science in our field of osteoarchaeology and physical anthropology in Belgium specifically.

We will do this by :

-          Studying osteological material from archaeological contexts.

-          Improving communication between researchers, institutions and archaeological units.

-          Organising annual meetings (a first meeting was held at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences on Feb 27th 2016; a second meeting will be organised on Jan 14th 2017).

-          Providing an online platform through e-mail, social networks, a website, and soon, a newsletter.

What:

We are currently organizing ourselves to improve collaborations, share our knowledge and standardize our methods. A Belgian osteological database, which will only be accessible to researchers, is under construction to allow comparisons between sites and across periods, and will ensure a holistic approach. We also intend to provide legal and ethical advice regarding skeletal remains for archaeologists and others.

BOAPAS  aims to get a legal recognition in order to be able to host national/international and disciplinary/interdisciplinary conferences, and to foster the publication of papers.

For more information, or if you would like to join us (membership is still free!), please contact us by mail:

boapas.2016@gmail.com, or visit our website: www.boapas.be. You can also follow us on Facebook “Belgian OsteoArchaeology & Physical Anthropology Society – Boapas” and Twitter @Boapas2016.

Davina Craps, Hélène Déom and Marit Van Cant