International Conference

MonBones research team together with the Department of History and Archaeology – University of Barcelona, the Department of Basic Medical Sciences – University Rovira i Virgili and the Reial Monestir Santa Maria de Pedralbes are organizing the International Conference:

RECONSTRUCTING PAST MONASTIC LIFE. Inferences from archaeological, bioanthropological and documentary perspectives

Barcelona, 25 and 26 January 2024

Topics and Themes

The conference will cover all aspects related to monastic life in the past aiming to promote the dissemination and exchange of knowledge among researchers interested in monasticism. The intention is to bring together specialists from different disciplines who will contribute new developments on this topic from different fields of study, such as zooarchaeology, bioanthropology, taphonomy, archaeobotany, archaeology, history, documentary disciplines, archives, art history, cultural heritage, etc.

New trends and findings in research about diet, health, economy, society, lifestyle, gender, architecture, monuments and landscapes in monastic contexts from the past will be particularly welcomed.

Topics and fields of study

General Information

  • Registration and submission of papers will be possible from 1 June 2023 onwards.
  • The deadline for submission of proposals for papers and posters is 15 September 2023 extended to 29 September 2023.
  • The deadline for registration is 30 November.
  • Peer review of abstracts submitted will determine acceptance and the results of the review will be communicated by 15 October 2023.
  • To register, please complete the online registration form.

Fees and Payment Methods

The registration fee may be paid through this link: register here

  • Regular fee 100 Euro
  • Student fee 60 Euro

The fee includes admission to the sessions, conference documentation, guided tour to Santa Maria de Pedralbes Monastery, coffee breaks and the two lunches.


  • All speakers are requested to observe a 15-minute limit for their papers.
  • All speakers and presenters of posters must be registered for the congress


Papers from the conference will be published in a special monograph of Medieval Monastic Studies of Brepols Publishers.

Medieval Monastic Studies is a series of monographs and collections of essays devoted to all aspects of the monastic history of Europe and the Latin East.

Scientific Committee

The members of the scientific committee are:

Organising Committee

The conference is organised by researchers of the project MonBones. Members of the Organising Committee are:


Supporting Institutions

Abstract Submissions

Abstracts submitted for papers and posters must be no longer than 300 words. The congress languages are English, Spanish and Catalan, but all abstracts must be submitted in English.

A Word file with the abstract must be sent to the e-mail address:

Abstracts should include:

Plenary speakers

  • Dr Megan Brickley, Professor of Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, McMaster University (Canada). Canada Research Chair in Bioarchaeology of Human Disease. Specialist in health and nutrition in past populations through bone research as seen through the lens of bioarchaeology.

Lecture title: New approaches to old problems: rickets, scurvy and anemia

Metabolic diseases such as rickets, scurvy and anemia have been extensively investigated by those seeking to reconstruct aspects of life and death in past communities. Closely linked to a group of tightly interlinked interactions between socio-cultural, biological, and environmental factors, these conditions have considerable potential to inform our understanding of past communities. Although anemia has received the most attention, there still needs to be more consensus on diagnosing this condition. In particular, there has been extensive debate on possible links between anemia and porotic cranial lesions referred to as cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis.

In this paper, I will review current approaches to diagnosing and interpreting all three conditions and consider how newly available frameworks for suggesting diagnostic certainty in the case of rickets and scurvy and the co-occurrence of these two diseases might advance our understanding of lifeways in past communities. Evidence for marrow hyperplasia is the gold standard for diagnosing anemia in bioanthropology and paleopathology. I will review reasons why recent debates have failed to resolve issues in diagnosing past cases of acquired anemia. This paper will finish by setting out new ideas on diagnosing anemia that centers on metric evaluation of structural changes of bone caused by marrow hyperplasia.

How bioarchaeologists and paleopathologists diagnose and interpret rickets, scurvy and anemia and co-occurrence of these conditions will be reviewed. Drawing on examples from my recent research, I will illustrate how the new frameworks and methodologies discussed offer considerable potential to better leverage information on sociocultural, biological, and environmental factors operating in past communities.

  • Dr Karen Stöber, Professora Agregada, Departament de Didàctiques Específiques, Universitat de Lleida (Spain). Expert in the social history of medieval monasticism, and the relationship between the secular and the religious world in medieval period.

Lecture title: Vinum oleum cera spens et mel. What documents can reveal about the medieval monastic diet.

Food consumption in medieval religious houses was simultaneously tightly regulated and closely tied to the liturgical calendar, and subject to a whole set of symbolic and ritual acts. On the other hand, it seems clear that these ideals were not always adhered to. The surviving documentation can reveal a wealth of information about every aspect of monastic eating, from the purchase and cultivation of food items, via the preparation of meals on regular and feast days, to the excesses criticised by visiting authorities.

This paper will offer a look at some of the plentiful documentation relating to different aspects of food purchase, food consumption, rules relating to monastic eating, and the ways in which these were often stretched to the limit. It will seek to provide an insight into some of the ways in which medieval monastic communities went about the important and yet often complex issue of eating within the context of the expectations and limitations set by the requirements of their Orders on the one hand, and by the expectations of patrons and other visitors on the other. By doing so, it will also consider the necessities of the individuals who formed these communities, and the social and economic contexts within which they existed.


Preliminary Programme

Thursday 25 January 2024

PLACE: Facultat de Geografia i Història, Room Jane Addams

8:30 – 9:30 Arrival and registration

9:30-10:00 Plenary opening session

10:00-11:00 Invited lecture: Dr Megan Brickley, Professor of Anthropology, McMaster University (Canada).
Title: Metabolic Diseases: Providing a lens on past lifeways

11:00-11:30 Coffee break

Sesion 1: 11:30-13:20 Podium presentations

13:20-15:00 LUNCH

Session 2: 15:00-16:40 Podium presentations

16:40-17:00 Coffee break

Session of Posters:17:00-18:00 Poster presentations

Friday 26 January 2024

PLACE: Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes

Session 3: 9:30 –10:50 Podium presentations

10:50-11:20 Coffee break

11:20 -12:20 Invited lecture: Dr Karen Stöber, Professora Agregada, Universitat de Lleida.
Title: Vinum oleum cera spens et mel. What documents can reveal about the medieval monastic diet

12:20-13:30 Guided tour of the Monastery of Pedralbes

13:30-15:00 LUNCH

Session 4: 15:00-16:15 Podium presentations

16:15- 16:45 Coffee break

Session 5: 16:45-18:00 Podium presentations

18:00-18:30 Plenary closing session

Practical information

Conference Venues

The congress will be held in Barcelona, at the Faculty of Geography and History of the University of Barcelona (25th January) and at the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes (26th January).


Barcelona is the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, known for its art and architecture. Barcelona is a city on the northeastern coast of Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous city of Spain. Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The fantastic Sagrada Família church and other modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí dot the city. Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró feature modern art by their namesakes. The history museum MUHBA, el Born CCB and the Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia (MAC) preserve and exhibit important archaeological collections and archaeological sites.

First day: 25th January

The Faculty of Geography and History offers a high-quality academic environment with all the technological requirements and an ideal location in the centre of Barcelona.

facultat filisofia historia i geografia

The first day sessions of the Conference (and the coffee breaks) will take place at the Room Jane Addams located in the fourth floor of the Faculty of Geography and History, which can be accessed by Carrer Montalegre 6 (see map below) by the Faculty entrance. The Faculty is located in the city centre and close to several metro stops. The nearest Metro stations to the venue are Plaça Catalunya (L1, L3) and Plaça Universitat (L1, L2). 

Second day: 26th January

The Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes is a gothic monastery that offers unparalleled settings that match the theme of the event perfectly. The monastery was founded by Queen Elisenda de Montcada (the fourth and final wife of King James II of Aragon) in 1327. It was occupied from its foundation by the Poor Clare Order, the female branch of the Order of St. Francis. They resided there virtually uninterrupted until 1983, when the small community of Poor Clare nuns that still remained there was moved to a new convent adjoining the old monastery. It is now a museum, housing permanent exhibitions on its own art and legacy as well as third-party special exhibitions from time to time.

Pedralbes monasteri aerial views

The second day sessions of the Conference (and the coffee breaks) will take place at the Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes which can be accessed by Carrer Baixada del monestir, 9 (see map below)

Access in public transport:

The location of the room will be indicated at the entrance of the monastery.

How to get to Barcelona

By air

There are various options for getting to Barcelona by plane. The Josep Tarradelles Barcelona – El Prat International Airport connects the city with capitals around the world. The Aerobus is an express shuttle bus service between Barcelona Airport and Barcelona city center. There are Aerobuses to and from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The TMB Airport Bus Number 46 and Night Bus N17 and N16 are also available for transfers between the airport and the city center. TMB buses are cheaper but are also slower.

By train

Barcelona has rail connections with the main cities in Spain and the whole of Europe, with direct trains to capitals such as Paris, Zurich and Milan. The high-speed rail service connects the city with France, Madrid and the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Barcelona Sants is the main railway station in Barcelona. The city center can be reached easily from Barcelona Sants using public transport. Tickets for local public transport can be purchased from the station.

By car

The city is connected to the French motorway network via the AP-7 and C-32 motorways and the N-II main road. From the south, the city can also be reached via the AP-7 and the C-32.

City transport

Mobility in Barcelona is easy as a result of its extensive metro, tram, bus, and the city and suburban rail services. The city also has a public bike hire scheme and more than 200 km of bike lanes.Public transport operates an integrated fare system enabling passengers to obtain a free transfer from one means of public transport to another within a period of 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are different types of travel cards and transport passes in Barcelona that are valid throughout the public transport network (metro, buses, tram and suburban rail), including the T-10 card which is valid for 10 journeys, or day passes.Single ticket: 2,40 €
Ten tickets set (T-10 or T-Casual): 11,35 €


Some hotels situated in the city center and close to the 1st day venue:

Meson Castilla Atiram Hotel Barcelona
Carrer de Valldonzella, 5, 08001 Barcelona
Telephone: +34 (93) 933 18 21 82
Toc Hostel Barcelona
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 580, Barcelona
Hotel Jazz
Pelai, 3. 08001 Barcelona. Espanya
Telephone: +34 (93) 552 96 96
Hotel Catalonia Ramblas
Pelai, 28.  08001 Barcelona
Telephone: +34 (93) 316 84 00
Hotel Catalonia Plaça Catalunya
Bergara, 11. 08001 Barcelona
Telephone: +34 (93) 301 51 51

If you choose accommodation in a youth hostel or university residences:

Barcelona Urbany Hostel
Avenida Meridiana 97Telephone: +34 (93) 245 84 14
Distance to the 1st day venue 20 minutes by metro Metro L1 (red line) Clot stop to Plaça Universitat stop.
Urbany BCN GO! Hostel
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 563
Telephone: +34 (93) 737 96 18
Walking distance to 1st day venue 7 minutes .
Resa Investigadors Residence Hall
Carrer Hospital 64
Telephone: +34 (93) 443 86 10
The Resa Investigadors Residence Hall is located in the centre of Barcelona, beside Rambla del Raval, only 250 meters from Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s Contemporary Art Museum and the Liceu metro station.
Walking distance to the 1st day venue 6 minutes.