Animal Palaeopathology Working Group

The APWG committe would like to thank Stephanie Vann for writing the following review. Pictures of the conference can be found on our photocentre. Abstracts of the conference are available to download. Please click here to access the file. The conference proceedings are also available to purchase from Archaeopress.

"The International Conference of the ICAZ Animal Palaeopathology Working Group (APWG) was held at the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, Slovakia, 23rd – 24th September 2004. The event was attended by 20-30 representatives from at least 9 countries, including Denmark, Great Britain and the United States of America, as well as those of Eastern and Central Europe.

Following the opening of the meeting, on Thursday 23rd September, the morning session was devoted to theoretical lectures on the ‘principles of comparative vertebrate hard tissue microanatomy’ by Professor Bromage of New York University, and the ‘basic principles of mammalian skeletal pathology’ by Dr Galbavý of the Faculty Hospital’s Department of Orthopaedics in Nitra. These were considered to be particularly useful and informative by all the delegates, highlighting such areas as how lines of arrested growth form in different types of bone tissue and the great variety of abnormalities that need to be taken into consideration when dealing with the subject of pathology.

The meeting of the Animal Palaeopathology Working Group committee was well attended in the afternoon. Discussions of topics such as how to integrate the sub-discipline further into the field of archaeozoology, and archaeology as a whole, as well as enhancing links with related disciplines, generated thoughtful debate.

All attendees then enjoyed a visit to the archaeological exhibition at the Ponitrianske Museum in Nitra, which had some fascinating exhibits including a Venus figurine carved from mammoth ivory, and the subsequent meal at a local restaurant. The reviewer cannot help but wonder whether one conference delegate managed to return home successfully with her collection of bones from the roast duck without getting stopped by curious customs officials.

The second day of the conference was dedicated to oral presentations and poster sessions. The topics covered ranged widely, from examinations of particular sites and geographic areas within Europe, to specific types of pathologies, and the methods used to record them. Amongst other subjects, Ingrid Alioniene’s research into the ‘estimation of the microstructure of suids’ long bones’, presented by Linas Daugnora, sparked some interesting debate into whether it was possible to differentiate wild boar and domestic pig bones from their microstructure, whilst Kyra Lyublyanovics’ examination of two horse skeletons from a Roman cemetery in Budapest led to discussion over the likelihood of certain pathologies providing evidence for tethering. These were enjoyed by all of the assembly, the variety of subjects demonstrating the breadth of interest within this field amongst not just recognised researchers, but also amongst the postgraduate students who attended.

The organising committee and hosts of the conference are to be congratulated on producing a well organised and enjoyable two days, and it is to be hoped that such an event can be put on again in the not too distant future."

Stephanie Vann (