Since 2000 the Rescue Excavation Unit,
Museum of West Bohemia in Plzeň has surveyed and excavated around
the Church of the Holy Spirit in Všeruby. The excavations led by
Martin Čechura were supposed to prevent the destruction of cultural
heritage in the former Late Medieval and Early Post-Medieval churchyard.
The initial excavations uncovered unique burials of infants. Because of
the scientific and cultural potential of these unique contexts, the
area adjecent to the northern part of the church was selected for a
larger rescued project. Although this area is supposed to be subject to
a construction work in the future, the rescue project started early
enough to have enough time to apply detailed methods of
This project is unique in the Central
European persective in several aspects. First, biological
athropologists are in the field collecting the data. It is not about
removing bones from the record that would get to an anthropological
laboratory later. In such situations anthropologists do not have
sufficient information about the field context of bones. Taphonomic
data is lost and understanding of depositional and post-depositional
processes is limited. This project attempts to focus on transformation
processes instead of static estimations of sex, age, and body height.
The ultimate goal is understanding of mortuary rituals and subsequent
decay and manipulation with human body over long period of time.
Therefore, we attempt to bridge the Central European gap between
archaeology and antropology via focus on questions that can be answered
using multiple lines of evidence. This approach is not as common as in the West.
Second, this research attemps to test
new methods of data collection. Precise field measurements of tiny
infant and fetal bones were taken with microscribe, units are
photographed, rectified and integrated into GIS environment. Third,
this research is unique because of the the focus on detail. We are very
slow but measure both artifacts and human bones in 3D that will allow
for detailed reconstructions.
project also offers opportunities for students in the form of summer
fieldschool. Since 2003 students of anthropology and archaeology have
participated in the project and been exposed to large quantities of
artifacts, human bones and bone fragments. This allowed them to
improve their skills in excavating, data recording, and anatomical
identification of fragments. We are happy that this project is
supported by School of Social Sciences, University of West Bohemia
within the frame of the program 'Research Methods in Cemeteries'.