A group of archaeologists from the Czech Republic discovered 30 common graves from the High Middle Ages, with about 1500 skeletons, the highest number found at the time, representing a record number for the European continent.
The graves were found during the repair work in the Czech chapel of Ossuary Sedlec, in the suburbs of Kutna Hora, which has a number of between 40 000 to 70 000 skeletons.
The floor of the chapel is below ground level, and it was during excavations in the surrounding cemetery to access the lower part of the building that the skeletons were found, being arranged throughout the north area of the iconic chapel.
It seems that the foundations of the chapel, built around 1400 AD, were built over the existing skeletons, probably because they were unaware of their existence in the region.
The tombs, apparently, are from two distinct periods of time in the 14th century, the oldest being, according to the researchers, from 1318 AD, corresponding to a period when the region was ravaged by hunger and food shortages.
The other tombs date from 1348 to 1350 AD, at a time when the Black Death plagued the region and the world, and when millions of people died, being buried in mass graves, a common practice at the time.
It is believed that the existence of these graves was not known since some of the oldest skeletons were damaged when the most modern graves were created, some of them because they were located in the north corner of the chapel.
Although this is an incredible discovery, much research will still be needed to catalog all the skeletons, which may be vital to provide data about the diet at the time, and the respective environment in which they lived.
There is still the possibility that there are many other tombs under the chapel, but it would probably be quite complicated to excavate them without this representing the risk of damaging the emblematic chapel.