Palaeodemographic and palaeopathological study of the St.Romboutscemetery, Mechelen

In the study of archaeological populations in the past, based on the human remains themselves, palaeodemographic research is often at the core. In this respect it is very interesting to use large collections in which trends and patterns can be recognized and used for the exploration and development of methods to define population structure, including the study of health and diet, and the significance of this for the wider study of archaeological populations. A palaeodemographic profile is influenced by the taphonomic and cultural selection of individuals, diet, environment, sex, activities, social groups, climate and migrations and should be interpreted with these in mind. Recent excavations on the cemetery of St.Rombouts in Mechelen have yielded over 4000 individual burials, dated from the 11th to the 18th century AD. A demographic profile of a selection of this collection is composed, in which the possibilities and limitations can be assessed, as well as the possibilities in which it can be compared and used for other populations. This demographic profile is combined with the mortuary characteristics and a study of the health status of the population as well as the possibility of differentiation between population groups.


  • Van de Vijver, K. (2012). The Uses of Field Anthropology on the Excavation of the St-Rumbold Cemetery, Mechelen, Belgium. Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. Cambridge, 17-19 September 2010 (BAR International Series 2380) (pp. 175-181).
  • Van de Vijver, K. and F. Kinnaer. Forthcoming. Reconstructing the execution and burial of 41 brigands in Mechelen during the Flemish Peasants’ War in 1798. In C. Knüsel and M. Smith, (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict. Routledge.
Internal member(s)
Wim Van Neer
Caroline Polet
Other member(s)
Copromoter: Ronny Decorte (Forensic Biomedical Sciences, KU Leuven)
Assessor: Brigitte Meijns (History Research Unit, Medieval History, KU Leuven)
Bart Robberechts, Liesbeth Troubleyn, Frank Kinnaer (Dienst Archeologie, Stad Mechelen)
Doctoral grant by the CAS (Center for Archaeological Sciences) at KU Leuven
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