Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Patricia Richards

Committee Members

Bettina Arnold, Joseph P Gray, Benjamin Campbell, Maria Smith


Biological Distance, Dalmatia, Medieval Archaeology, Ottoman Empire


Research by doctoral candidate Lindsey Jo Helms Thorson, under the supervision of Dr. Patricia Richards, investigated population during the Ottoman expansion into Croatian territories to determine whether migration contributed significantly to changes in the biological make-up of the population. The study focused on phenotypic trait variation, using cranial and dental metric and nonmetric data, in two skeletal samples from the Medieval (pre-Ottoman) period and two skeletal samples from the Early Modern (Ottoman) period in the central Dalmatian region of Croatia, curated at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts – Anthropology Center. Historical narratives suggest that as the Ottoman Empire expanded into the Croatian territories a large depopulation event occurred as many Croats fled in fear of continued Ottoman raiding followed by the Ottoman sürgün policy of forcible repopulation of the region by Orthodox Vlach and Serbian laborers and soldiers. This model was tested against the evidence for changes to phenotypic variation in the central Dalmatian region’s population from the Medieval to the Early Modern periods using biological distance analyses of cranial metric, cranial non-metric, dental metric and dental non-metric traits. The data indicate that the Ottoman conflicts were a major disruptive factor and primary cause for the population change in the 16-17th centuries in the Dalmatian region of Croatia. The movement of people combined with the prolonged period of warfare and resettlement led to secondary factors such as environmental degradation, disease outbreaks and famine that further contributed to the identified changes to the population, as reflected in phenotypic traits. Contrary to expected results biodistance analysis identified consistent changes to the female portion of the population over time, while for the male portion of the population results concerning change over time were inconclusive. Suggesting that the normal migration pattern of an initial male-led flow followed later with a mature migrant stream is not followed in the context of severely disruptive interstate warfare.