D2 Article in a professional research book

Turun unohdettu kolerahautausmaa - Arkeologisia tutkimuksia Kakolanmäen länsijuurella




List of Authors: Sonja Hukantaival, Anne-Mari Liira, Sofia Paasikivi

Publisher: Turun Museokeskus

Place: Turku

Publication year: 2019

Book title *: Pitkin poikin Aurajokea - Arkeologisia tutkimuksia

Title of series: Raportteja

Number in series: 23

Number of pages: 10

ISBN: 978-951-595-208-0

eISBN: 978-951-595-207-3

ISSN: 1797-965X

URL: https://www.turku.fi/sites/default/files/atoms/files/pitkin_poikin_e_kirja.pdf


Abstract

In 2011–14, the Museum Centre of Turku
conducted archaeological excavations at
the site of a 19th-century burial ground.
The excavations were connected with
building work done at the site. During the
excavations, 45 graves were detected of
which 37 were thoroughly documented.
Eight of the observed graves did not coincide with the construction site and these
where left untouched.
The graves were
preserved to different degrees: some were
almost completely decomposed while others were quite well preserved. The bodies had been placed in simple wooden coffins. Some of the coffins were placed in
the same pit side by side and on top of
each other in two layers. Some of them
included plant remains such as straw or
twigs that had been placed under the
body, especially under the head.
Three of the burials contained a small
metal Orthodox cross pendant and two
of the graves showed signs of amputated
legs. One of these was a young man whose
left lower leg (tibia) had been amputated.
He had died before the amputation had
begun to heal. Still, the off-cut part of the
leg had not been included in the burial.
The other case was an amputated femur
that was found in a grave where the buried
individual had two whole legs. It seems
that the off-cut part was buried in another
person’s coffin. However, it is possible that
the femur belonged in the coffin on top
of the one it was found in, since this quite
decomposed coffin had partly collapsed
into the nether one.
This burial ground has not been
marked on maps. Human bones and burials were first found there in the early 21th
century, when the area was constructed
into a residential zone. In the 1970s, when
bones were again found, the museum was
informed that this was a Cholera burial
ground. Indeed, historical sources confirm that a Cholera burial ground had
been founded somewhere in the area in
1831, during the first epidemic. However,
two major questions remain. First, why
was the burial ground forgotten so soon
after its use period? In 1905 when the residential area was being built, newspapers
reported the finds of mysterious human
bones as if there was no recollection of a
burial ground founded there only around
70 years earlier. Moreover, only ten
years earlier, in 1895, a local newspaper
reported that funds were appropriated for
building a fence around the Cholera burial ground, since relatives of the deceased
were distressed about the neglected state
of the graves.
The second question might provide a clue for the first one. All 14 of the
deceased whose sex was possible to estimate were male. All were adults, except
one was juvenile. Moreover, the Orthodox cross pendants and amputated legs
(together with earlier observations of soldier clothing) seem to point towards Russian soldiers. The Cholera burial ground
of the Russian military hospital did indeed
situate close to the area. However, if the
area excavated was mainly in use by the
Russian troops, it would mean that the
burial ground of ordinary townspeople is
still to be located. Continued excavations
in the area may shed more light to this
question.


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Last updated on 2021-24-06 at 11:04