The Archaeological research of the modern graveyard in Plešivec

The town of Český Krumlov, the suburb of Plešivec. The conditions were not very easy while searching the modern graves in 2000, (photo O. Pátek).
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In 2000 the modern graveyard was uncovered and demonstrated by documentation in front of the houses No. 481 and No. 482 while the civils were reconstructed in Plešivecká Street in the town of Český Krumlov (picture 1). In July 2000 the archeologists (company Archaia) researched altogether eleven skeleton graves dating from the 17th or 18th century (picture 2). The discovery attracted attention of tens of Český Krumlov inhabitants during the research. The uncovered graves rank among the most attractive discoveries at all. However, some of them even surpriced the archeologists themselves due to their exceptionality. There is a brief description of them.

Seven graves out of eleven were situated in the east-west course as it is usual in Christian burying places. Most of them were slightly damaged during the excavation work. The remainders of broken limbs sticked out of the ground. The usual situation can be seen in picture 4. The man, aged 30-40, approximately 171 cm tall who did not excel in anything was buried in grave No. 6. Far more remarkable finding was uncovered in grave No. 10. The skeleton of an old man, aged 40-50, 169 cm tall was found in a not very common position - distorted, bent and faced forward. The dead man seems to be thrown into the short hole where it was not possible to lie straight. Other matters of interest were notified by anthropologist Mgr. Pavel Kubálek who selected all the skeletons from the graveyard in Plešivec. The buried man had many injuries on his head: "Multiple partial healed cutting wounds on his vertex, the depression above his left eye caused by a blunt stroke". We will mention them again later. The man´s head (grave No. 1, aged 30-40, 169cm tall) was underlaid with a large stone. Several beads - probably from a rosary were found in his thorax. The oldest dead man, aged 60+, 163 cm tall was found in grave No. 2.

The town of Český Krumlov, the suburb of Plešivec. There is a red mark on the map showing where the place of discovery is.
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The town of Český Krumlov, the suburb of Plešivec. Drawn documentation of graves No. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 (drawing O. Pátek and M. Ernée).
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Graves No. 3, 8, 9 and 11 (picture 3) were uncommonnessly situated in the north-south course. The exceptionality was already signified by the position. It was proved during the research. We will not occupy with grave No. 11 which was uncovered in a little part. A well-preserved grave No.8 ( picture 5 ) was searched in full detail. The man, aged 30-40, 171 cm tall was laid straight on his back, headed for the north. His hands were folded and his right palm pointed to hi crotch. He was buried in a wooden coffin with the iron nails. Five stones were found next to his left arm and originally could have been used to weight down the cover. There were healed fractures on both elbow bones.

The town of Český Krumlov, the suburb of Plešivec. The graves damaged during the excavation work - graves No. 6, 10 (photo O. Pátek) The town of Český Krumlov, the suburb of Plešivec. The most remarkable graves, male grave No. 9 and female grave No. 3. They both headed for the north, foto: O. Pátek
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Uncovering graves No. 3 and No. 9 seems to be the most interesting and surprising (picture 6, 7, 8). The only woman skeleton (159 cm tall) found in grave No. 3 was put up on her back, headed for the north, her hands were crossed in her womb. Some crystal beads - probably the rosary fragments were found closed to her wrist. The skull with a stone in her mouth was detached from the body and put up between the woman´s knees (picture 8) - a pile of stones was found on its place. However, P. Kubálek did not find any signs of skull or vertebra damage which would indicate forcible detachment of her head from her body. The man, aged 30-40, 160 cm tall, headed for the north was found in grave No. 9 (picture 6). His hands were folded on his abdomen, his skull was filled with some stones (picture 7). Besides one healed fracture, Mr. Kubálek also found one remarkable anomaly on the dead man´s dentition - "the detrition of the bottom left second incisor and canine tooth, and the top left second incisor and canine tooth was caused by a cylindrical object (approximately 1cm calibre) ". It might be a very rare evidence showing the proof of long-term smoking a tobacco pipe - the sign of its mouthpiece.

The town of Český Krumlov, the suburb of Plešivec. Grave No. 8 - the man, aged 30-40, headed for the north, his hands were folded in his crotch, foto: O. Pátek
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How is it possible that the graves were discovered in Plešivec? There was no mention about such a place. Finally we managed to find several records (thanks to Mgr. A. Kubíková from the Český Krumlov branch of The State Files Record Office in Třeboň who gave us the information). The description of Český Krumlov comes from Urban of Urbanstadt and says there were two graveyards in the course of time, the Evangelical burial yard in the 17th century and the military graveyard in the 18th century.

The Lutheran graveyard was situated next to Schulpachov´s yard. In December 1604 the Borough Council bought Anna Cyprian´s house with a garden used by the Evangelics for 6 piles of 115 Meissen groschen in order to establish their own graveyard. It might have been the house built in Hans Kunsteterś garden from the period 1584 - 1599. In November 1609 the Evangelics advised the Borough Council to fence the graveyard garden. Soon after the Borough Council authorized their suggestion and the garden where the Evangelics were buried was fenced. There is a record mentioning the Evangelic graveyard dating from 1624 and the Lutheran graveyard from 1663, 1697 and 1710.

Other records come from about 100 years later. There was a very high death-rate in Jan Balfischer´s battalion and there was no room in St. Martin´s graveyard. In March 1779 one half of the former Lutheran graveyard with "Lutheran tombstones" was consecrated in order to establish the military graveyard. They put up the cross there. The second half of the old graveyard was still used by the Lutherans. In 1794 the military graveyard was extended by the second half. In 1800 Simon Stifter bought the graveyard and its perimeter wall. In 1801 Josef Fink bought the garden and had a house built in it. Presently the whole surrounding was gradually built up. The state of the place called Plešivec after abolishing the military graveyard can be seen on the land-register map dating from 1826 (picture 1).

The town of Český Krumlov, the suburb of Plešivec. Grave No. 9 in full detail - the man´s skull, aged 30-40, filled with some stones, foto: O.Pátek The town of Český Krumlov, the suburb of Plešivec. Grave No. 3 in full detail - the woman´s skull was detached from her body and put up between her knees (photo O. Pátek)
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The Lutheran graveyard is known to be established in Plešivec in 1604, but people were not buried there from 1663. The place was concecrated again in 1779 in order to establish the military graveyard. In 1794 the graveyard was extended, and definitely abolished and sold in 1800. Nobody was buried there for a long time and already buried people were only the Lutherans and soldiers. Numerous healed wounds - broken limbs in graves No. 4, 8 and 9, cutting wounds and skull depressions caused by a stroke in grave No. 10 should be a sign of military graves.

Some of the uncovered graves were very exceptional so their interpretation is not easy. The grave bearings in the north-south course where the deceaseds headed for the north and faced the east are considered to be a characteristic anomaly. "Classical" bearings east-west can be seen in the Christian burying places. It is the fact that the graves are different from those "standard". Additional skeleton interventions were discovered in the graves (detached woman´s head with a stone in her mouth was put up between the woman´s knees in grave No. 3), and loading (limbs in grave No. 8, head in grave No. 9) or replacement (head in grave No. 3). Two out of all buried had their hands crossed on their abdomen. Originally the hands might have been fastened with the rosary.


Further information :
Archaeological researches in the town of Český Krumlov
Archaeological research in the medieval town of Český Krumlov

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