image/svg+xml197 VII/2/2016 InterdIscIplInarIa archaeologIca natural scIences In archaeology homepage: http://www.iansa.eu Traces of Dissection on Human Skeletal Remains of the First Half of 19 th Century from Ostrava, Czech Republic Michal Živný a* , Zbyněk Moravec b a Department of Biology and Ecology , Faculty of Science, University of Ostrava, Chitussiho 10, 710 00 Ostrava, Czech Republic b Ostrava Museum, Masarykovo náměstí 1, 728 41 Ostrava, Czech Republic 1. Introduction In 2007 a rescue archaeological excavation in Puchmajerova Street, Ostrava, Czech Republic, was realized in connection with reconstruction work on underground utilities. The excavation resulted in the unearthing of circa 40 graves which date back to the Early Modern Period. The cemetery was founded in 1586 (as a solution to the increased mortality due to the plague epidemic) and was used until 1843 (or 1852). Between 1785 and 1843 it was the main burial ground for the inhabitants of Moravská Ostrava and some afliated villages. Within the cemetery area, St. Luke’s chapel was built in the last phase of the cemetery’s existence, the chapel surviving the abolition of the cemetery by nearly half a century. The excavated skeletal material was exhumed and studied by anthropologists. The major results of this archaeological and anthropological research have already been published (Moravcová et al. 2015; Moravec et al. 2014; Živný et al. 2011).The conclusions reached by the evaluation of the archaeological fndings fully correspond with our knowledge of burial rites in the Early Modern Period – the cemetery represents a typical Post-Medieval burial ground and is comparable with dozens of parallel examples in Moravia and neighbouring regions (Králíková 2007; Rubinková 1999; Unger 2006). Thorough standard “traditional” anthropological research of the human skeletal remains revealed no extraordinary outcomes concerning the demographic characteristics of the population. Nevertheless, a revision of the anthropological examination of the individual in grave number 841 has brought some quite unique fndings relating to cause of death, which has proved to be a key point for the further research undertaken. With few exceptions (rulers, generals, clerics, etc. ), the dead buried in graves in past centuries are fully anonymous persons whose lives we may only get to know partially and indirectly by means of archaeological and anthropological (or other natural-science-based) research. As we shall see, the skeleton exhumed from grave number 841 is one of those exceptions. Based on the interplay of several coincidences, it has been possible to Volume VII ● Issue 2/2016 ● Pages 197–205 *Corresponding author. E-mail: michal.zivny@osu.cz ARtiClE inFO Article history: Received: 1 st December 2016Accepted: 28 th December 2016 Key words: Ostravagraveshuman skeletal remainsarchaeologyanthropologyarchivesEarly Modern Timesdissection ABStRACt Rescue archaeological excavation in Puchmajerova Street, Ostrava, Czech Republic, has resulted in the discovery of approximately 40 graves dating back to the Early Modern Period. One of the graves, number 841, connected with the last stage of the cemetery’s existence, has provided human bones in a very poor state of preservation. These have been anthropologically analysed and subsequently interpreted as the remains of a woman who died in her young adult life (20–25 years). The skeleton number 841 shows traces of dissection-like intervention in the right parietal bone and squama of the frontal bone, which has proved to be a key factor for subsequent investigations. Based on archaeological fndings (the dating and grave inventory), anthropological assessment (sex, age and dissection traces), and written sources (registers of deaths), we have been able to identify this skeleton as the remains of the Ostrava burgher Marianna Máchová (1817–1837), who committed suicide in 1837.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2016 ● VII/2 ● 197–205Michal Živný, Zbyněk Moravec: Traces of Dissection on Human Skeletal Remains of the First Half of 19 th Century from Ostrava, Czech Republic 198 identify the skeleton with a known person, and subsequently to look deeper into her life by means of the available written sources. Thus the skeletal remains from grave number 841 play a major role in this paper. The primary goal is to refer to the rare and unusual archaeological fnd of a postmortem invasion into the skull. The identifcation of the skeletal remains with a real historical person who has provided recorded information on the said postmortem manipulation is regarded as proof as to the correctness of our observations. 2. Material and methods2.1 Archaeological background Grave number 841 was situated in the very latest (most recent) group of burials at our cemetery. It is dated back to the period 1785–1843 and, in agreement with the funeral practices of that times, it was placed in a single line. The eastern (or lower) half of the grave (and skeletal remains) did not still exist at the time of our archaeological excavation, having been already removed by earlier building activities on the cemetery site. Thus only the western (or upper) half of the grave had been preserved for subsequent research (Figure 1). The grave was oriented in a NW–SE direction. There were poorly preserved human skeletal remains in a stretched supine position in the grave pit, with the upper extremities bent at the elbow joints and hands laid on the chest. Furthermore, the remains of a wooden cofn were detected around the skeleton (Moravec et al. 2014, 68–69). In contrast to the condition of the skeletal remains themselves, these wooden residues represent the best preserved cofn remnants at our cemetery. The cofn was originally closed by iron nails and was