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Archaeologists uncover 30 medieval mass graves

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Kutna Hora, Central Bohemia, Nov 9 (CTK) – Archaeologists have uncovered 30 mass graves of victims of 14-15th-century epidemics and famine during a research on a plot of the historical ossuary in Kutna Hora, Jan Frolik from the Institute of Archaeology told journalists on Thursday.

The graves contain 1,500 skeletons, which is the record number in Bohemia from the High Middle Ages, Frolik said.

In each of the mass graves, 50-70 people were buried.

“We must realize that such a mass grave represents a sample of a population within a very short period, which is extremely valuable to us. The 30 graves, as far as I know, are the largest set in Europe,” he said.

The mass graves flank the entire northern side of the ossuary, and partially also its western and eastern sides.

“It may be expected that further mass graves will be found during the research of the interior,” he added.

The pits are square, with dimensions of 2x2m and 2.5 metre in depth.

Experts link the older ones to the famine of 1318 and the others to the epidemic of plague between 1348-1350.

They probably were not marked on the outside, otherwise the old ones would not have been damaged in the course of further burying and of the construction of the ossuary and a chapel on the site later in the 14th century.

Frolik said the uncovered graves did not contain many objects. Bronze and iron buckles and coins were part of their inventory.

Kunta Hora’s ossuary is one of the most visited heritage sites in Central Bohemia, which has been undergoing extensive reconstruction funded by the Sedlec parish from the revenues from entrance tickets’ sale. The works began in 2014 and are expected to last up to 2024. The total costs are estimated at 55 million crowns and the ossuary will be open during the whole reconstruction period.

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