Further tests will be conducted on skeletons initially recovered from a centuries-old mass grave in Durham City, in the UK, in 2013.
Initial analysis on the bones of 28 individuals recovered from the site provided some evidence regarding their origins and identity, but was inconclusive.
The tests, coordinated and partly carried out by Durham University’s Department of Archaeology, included examination of the human bones by academic specialists; radiocarbon dating of two individuals and a programme of isotope analysis to ascertain diet.
The University will commission radiocarbon dating of some of the other skeletons, with results expected in the New Year. Read more.
A study of over 500 child skeletons from a mass workhouse grave has uncovered the harrowing deaths suffered by the youngest victims of the Famine.
The medical secrets from the hundreds of children buried between 1847 and 1851 in the grounds of the Kilkenny Union Workhouse are uncovered in a new study on the skeletal manifestation of stress in child victims of the Great Irish Famine.
Almost two thirds of the 545 children who were buried in the mass grave on the workhouse grounds were under the age of six, while workhouse records show the mortality rate for babies under the age of two was four times higher than older children. Read more.
Polish and Ukrainian scientists have unearthed a mass grave containing up to 1,000 victims of Stalinist terror in a castle once used as a secret police prison.
Among the victims in the grave were Polish soldiers. The Polish press has already called the find a “new Katyn” in reference to a massacre of thousands of Poles by Stalin in 1940, which still clouds Polish-Russian relations.
The grave was found in the grounds of the Kazimierz the Great castle in the town of Volodymyr-Volynsky in western Ukraine, close to the Polish border.
Although the 11th-century castle served as a base for Stalin’s infamous NKVD from 1939-56, scientists say the victims were killed between 1940 and 1941. Read more.
Barcelona - When the Black Death plague hit Spain back in the 14th century, the population reportedly plummeted from around six million to a mere 2.5 million people. However, the first mass grave from that period has only now been discovered, in Barcelona.
Experts found the mass grave underneath a basilica in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, containing 120 bodies, identified as having died from the plague. This is the first discovery of its kind in Spain.
The mass burial site was found beneath the Sant Just i Pastor Basilica, which is already well known as a site of Roman ruins and Visigoth architecture. The basilica now has the dubious honor of also being the only place in Spain which is knowingly a Black Death burial ground. Read more.
FLORENCE - A building site near the Uffizi museum has uncovered what archeologists believe could be a mass grave dating back to the sixth or seventh century AD, possibly during a plague.
The dig found 60 bodies laid out head-to-toe in a manner that could indicate hasty burial and need to optimize space in view of many more deaths, possibly because of a fatal epidemic.
”The remains have been unearthed over five months, and bear no evidence of trauma”, said Tuscany Archeology Superintendent Andrea Pessina. ”We will conduct DNA and carbon-14 tests to determine the cause and time of death, as well as information on diet, pathologies, and work-related stresses at the time”. (source)
A three-year-old excavation at the graveyard of the Abbey of St. Peter in Lucca, Italy, is yielding something more than archaeologists initially expected, and they’re not just talking about bones and other grave features and artifacts. While excavating, they stumbled upon a mass grave of human remains that contain evidence of an ancient cholera outbreak.
Led by Giuseppe Vercellotti and Clark Larson from Ohio State University and Hendrik Poinar from McMaster University, the researchers at the site have collected samples of ancient DNA from both humans and bacteria, hoping to find answers to questions about how past epidemics, such as the bubonic plague, developed, spread and devastated historic human populations in Europe. Read more.
Researchers of the Department of Anthropology of the Americas at the University of Bonn have discovered a mass grave in an artificial cave in the historical Maya city of Uxul (Mexico). Marks on the bones indicate that the individuals buried in the cave were decapitated and dismembered around 1,400 years ago. The scientists assume that the victims were either prisoners of war or nobles from Uxul itself.
For the last five years, archaeologists of the department of Anthropology of the Americas of the University of Bonn have been excavating in the historical Maya city of Uxul in Campeche (Mexico) with the aim of researching the origins and the collapse of regional states in the Maya lowlands. Read more.
Archaeologists have identified for the first time the full extent of a convicts’ mass grave on what was once a notorious concentration camp-style prison in Cork harbour.
The Spike Island Archaeological Project team, led by UCC archaeologist, Dr Barra Ó Donnabháin, has identified up to 250 previously unmarked burial plots, all dating from Famine times, within a walled cemetery area on Spike Island in Cork Harbour.
“We have always known that this area contained graves but we never knew how many,” Dr Ó Donnabháin said.
“There were about 11 headstones in this area, all dating from 1862, but which are not now in their original locations.
“Following geophysical analysis, we identified four or five rows with about 50 individual graves in each.” Read more.