Cognitive Values of Ossuaries from the Cemetery and the Church of St. Nicholas in Gniew, Poland
Exploring churches and cemeteries we often come across human remains placed in one common burial pit. We register the fact, and while working with site material we barely mention excavated ossuaries, not thinking, how much important knowledge can be obtained from them. During exploration seasons in the Church of St. Nicholas in Gniew (Pomerania, Poland) between 2009-2016 we registered various ossuaries from the modern period, placed inside and outside the church. The most significant information was obtained from the ossuary situated in the southern crypt of St. Anne’s Chapel, where, apart from bone relics, we found the most numerous archaeological collection of silk textiles in Poland. This material helps us to define details concerning the time of the individuals’ death. This represents a unique situation in ossuary studies, as usually ossuaries do not provide any additional material data. Human remains themselves help to recreate the history of local populations, as they provide indications of living conditions, pathological changes and the numerical size of the populations under examination. Therefore, archaeologists and anthropologists should work together in these complex sites.