Discovery of a 300-year-old grave of a man buried face down from Switzerland

Archaeologists studied the remains and personal belongings of individuals buried at the Middle Ages cemetery in Schüpfen, at the Bernese Lakeland region of Switzerland. The remains included an unusual grave of a man buried face down.

Burial of a man facing the bottom (by PhysOrg)
Burial of a man facing the bottom (by PhysOrg)

The graveyard was discovered during construction works of an underground garage adjacent to the churchyard wall. The land was originally used as a cemetery since the early Middle Ages. In total the archaeologists found 342 bodies which had been buried there between the 8th and 17th centuries. One of the bodies belonged to a man that was laid face down in his grave. Next to the body the archaeologists found a knife and several coins, corroded together into a single block of metal within what seems to be remains of a purse.

Oxidised remains of a private purse (by PhysOrg)
Oxidised remains of a private purse (by PhysOrg)

The purse was placed under the man’s chest. X-ray computer tomograph was used to see through the oxidised remains, as the block of coins was impossible to separate without damaging the artefacts. As a result twenty-four thin coins could be identified in cross-section. One of the coins in the purse was in fact made of pure silver. The latest one dates from 1629 presenting evidence that the man must have been buried after then.

X-ray image of some of the coins from the purse (by PhysOrg)
X-ray image of some of the coins from the purse (by PhysOrg)

(after PhysOrg)

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