Arche­ol­o­gists ex­hume child buri­als in Poland with coins placed in mouths

Iran Daily - - Cultural Heritage & Environmen­t -

Arche­ol­o­gists ex­ca­vat­ing a mass grave site from the 16th cen­tury have dis­cov­ered re­mains of chil­dren that were buried with coins in their mouths.

The ex­ca­va­tions are be­ing con­ducted by Arka­dia Firma Arche­o­log­iczna af­ter con­struc­tion work­ers stum­bled across hu­man re­mains dur­ing works on a new road in the vil­lage of Jeżowe in south-east Poland, her­itagedaily. com re­ported.

The team has so far dis­cov­ered 115 bod­ies, of which around 7080 per­cent are buri­als of chil­dren. Many child buri­als have been buried with coins in their mouths, which stems from an old prechris­tian tra­di­tion of the obols of the dead or Charon’s obol.

The cus­tom is pri­mar­ily as­so­ci­ated with the an­cient Greeks and Ro­mans, where Greek and Latin sources spec­ify the obol as a pay­ment or bribe for Charon, the fer­ry­man who would trans­port the souls of the dead. The cus­tom was later adopted by

Chris­tians across Europe and was prac­ticed well into the 20th cen­tury.

Most of the coins date from the reign of Sigis­mund III Vasa, who was the monarch of Poland be­tween 1587 and 1632. Also dis­cov­ered were coins from the reign of John II Casimir Vasa who was King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithua­nia from 1648, un­til his ab­di­ca­tion in 1668.

Arche­ol­o­gist Katarzyna Oleszek told the Pol­ish Press Agency: “We know from sources that dur­ing a visit of the bish­ops of Kraków in Jeżowe in 1604 there was al­ready a large parish church, with a gar­den, a rec­tory, a school and a ceme­tery.”

The team be­lieves that the area they are ex­ca­vat­ing was part of the ceme­tery that was des­ig­nated for chil­dren. All the bod­ies ex­humed will be stud­ied by an­thro­pol­o­gists, and then re­buried at the lo­cal parish church.


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