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Use of the radiocarbon method for dating of skeletal remains of a mass grave (Brno, the Czech Republic)

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Abstract

The dating of skeletal remains in archaeology is difficult, especially at findings without burial equipment. In this case, apart from literary and iconographic sources, anthropological and palaeopathological analyses, the radiocarbon dating method can also be used. We present an example where we used this procedure in the dating of the skeletal remains of an anonymous recent mass grave, found in the cellars of one of the houses in Brno (Czech Republic). On the basis of an assessment of the archaeological and anthropological context, in combination with radiocarbon dating, it could be concluded that the found skeletal remains were most likely of soldiers who died in the provisional military hospital as a result of injury or infection after the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805. An alternative hypothesis, that they are the remains of soldiers who died in the Battle of Hradec Králové in 1866, was excluded by radiocarbon dating.

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Acknowledgments

This publication was supported by OP RDE, MEYS, under the project “Ultra-trace isotope research in social and environmental studies using accelerator mass spectrometry”, Grant No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000728.

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Correspondence to Kateřina Vymazalová.

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Vymazalová, K., Vargová, L., Horáčková, L. et al. Use of the radiocarbon method for dating of skeletal remains of a mass grave (Brno, the Czech Republic). Stud Geophys Geod (2020) doi:10.1007/s11200-019-1217-4

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Keywords

  • skeletal remains
  • radiocarbon dating
  • Napoleonic wars