Cemetary plan, St Mary Spital

Who were the first Berliners?

MOLA team
05.09.2013

MOLA is collaborating with partners in Berlin on a pioneering project that will investigate the medieval population of Berlin through their skeletal remains. The population will then be compared with contemporary collections from London.

We hope that the comparison will provide a truly intra-European perspective on matters such as diet, life style, health care, life expectancy and disease. Furthermore we aim to be able to detect traces of Europe-wide phenomena, such as the impact of failed harvests, and moreover look at how the different populations managed these problems.

The skeletal collection from Berlin will be examined both osteologically (the bones) and spatially (the position of the bones and the burials) to examine the arrangement and use of cemeteries over time and to see how an individual’s status, health and age is reflected in the position and type of burial. This will then be compared with analysis completed on major London cemetery sites, particularly that of St. Mary’s Spitalfields; the largest cemetery site ever excavated in London.

This exciting project is a collaboration between the Landesdenkmalamt Berlin, Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin and the University of West Florida, and will make use of MOLA’s Osteologial and GIS expertise.

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