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Skeletons discovered underneath old European town

By Catholic Online
January 25th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Architects planning to do restoration in the town of Brno, in the Czech Republic uncovered a most remarkable archaeological find. Brno, officially settled in 1243 but occupied since the 400s, turned out to be the resting place of more than 50,000 people, felled by medieval ailments such as cholera and the plague.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Renovators found the human remains under Jakubske namesti or "St. Jacob's Square." Some 50,000 skeletons were stuffed under the square into a medieval charnel. Once piled in neat rows, at some point water and mud had flooded the underground ossuary and jumbled the thousands of bones.

The remains are believed to be from the 1600 and 1700s, and are believed to have been dug up from an old cemetery to make space for more burials, as in most of the ossuaries and catacombs in Europe.

The overwhelming amount of skulls, bones and skeletons, second only to the Catacombs in Paris make the Brno ossuary especially significant. It is clear that many of the people died of various diseases which can be seen in the coloration of the bones themselves. Though all the bones are tinted yellow, having never been exposed to sunlight, the extra yellow ones likely died of cholera, while the red tinted bones probably died from the plague.

Archeologists are working to returning the crypt to its ordered pre-flood state. Brno now plans to open its newfound bone extravaganza to the public. Much work remains to be done as tunnels are still filled with mud and bone lead directly to the St. James (mistakenly often called St. Jakob's) church where it is believed there are even more bones packed in the cellars underneath.

Due to having been exposed to water, the bones are still unsanitary and may carry bacteria and disease, and need to be cleaned before the ossuary can be fully opened to the public. The opening is planned for 2011, although the curious may get a sneak peek upon inquiry.

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