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.
- 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!
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.
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:
firstname.lastname@example.org, 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