The rich earlier Mid Upper Palaeolithic (Pavlovian) sites of Dolní
Vĕstonice I and II and Pavlov I (∼32,000–∼30,000 cal
BP) in southern Moravia (Czech Republic) have yielded a series of human burials,
isolated pairs of extremities and isolated bones and teeth. The burials occurred
within and adjacent to the remains of structures (‘huts’), among
domestic debris. Two of them were adjacent to mammoth bone dumps, but none of
them was directly associated with areas of apparent discard (or garbage). The
isolated pairs and bones/teeth were haphazardly scattered through the occupation
areas, many of them mixed with the small to medium-sized faunal remains, from
which many were identified post-excavation. It is therefore difficult to
establish a pattern of disposal of the human remains with respect to the
abundant evidence for site structure at these Upper Palaeolithic sites. At the
same time, each form of human preservation raises questions about the
differential mortuary behaviours, and hence social dynamics, of these foraging
populations and how we interpret them through an archaeological lens.
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This article focuses on the judicial consideration of the scientific analysis of the Tomašica mass grave, in the Prijedor municipality of Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Often referred to as the largest mass grave in Europe since the Second World War, this grave was fully discovered in September 2013 and the scientific evidence gathered was included in the prosecution of Ratko Mladić before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Based on the exhaustive analysis of all the publicly available trial transcripts, this article presents how the Tomašica evidence proved symptomatic of the way in which forensic sciences and international criminal justice intertwine and of the impact of the former over the latter on the admissibility of evidence, the conduct of proceedings and the qualification of the crimes perpetrated.
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Between 2012 and 2017, at the Ł-section of Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, or ‘Łączka’, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance exhumed a mass grave containing the remains of post-war anti-communist resistance fighters. Being referred to as the ‘cursed soldiers’, these fighters have become key figures in post-2015 Polish memory politics. In this article we focus on the role of the volunteers at these exhumations in the production of the ‘cursed soldiers’ memory. Following the idea of community archaeology as a civil society-building practice, the observed processes of sacralisation and militarisation show how the exhumations create a community of memory that promotes the core values of the currently governing national-conservative PiS party. We found that tropes related to forensic research and typically identified with cosmopolitan memory paradigms are used within a generally nationalist and antagonistic memory framework.