The 17th-century man who was buried face down

In 2013 archaeologists discovered a cemetery in use as long ago as the early Middle Ages in the Bernese Lakeland region of Switzerland. One of the bodies interred there was buried in an unusual way, and in order to better understand this puzzling situation coins found in the grave have been studied in detail by Empa’s x-ray specialists and reconstructed on the computer.

The original idea was to build a new underground garage adjacent to the churchyard wall in the centre of the village of Schüpfen. But as soon as building work began it became clear that the project was going to be delayed, for within a few hours human skeletons were uncovered. "The building contractor knew that they were working in a sensitive area,“ said Christian Weiss, a numismatic expert with the Archaeological Services of Canton Bern. The parcel of land in question had originally been used as a cemetery since the early Middle Ages, and in total the archaeologists found 342 bodies which had been buried there between the 8th and 17th centuries. And under the last 15 bodies to be interred was also the man who, till today, has the archaeologists scratching their heads. Read more.

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