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UNCOVERING A PECULIAR MASS GRAVE IN EASTERN ROMANIA

Authors:
  • Universitatea Alexandru Ioan Cuza din Iasi, Romania

Abstract and Figures

Abstract: The fortuitous discovery from Horlesti-Hăţaş, Rediu commune, Iaşi County, proved once again the important role played by chance in archaeological research. Here, in front of a living space, on the occasion of some mechanical works, was found a mass-grave containing the osteological remains of more than 200 individuals. The exceptional character of the funerary context (limited space, large number of individuals, skull alignment, traces of contusions or wounds, absence of the funerary inventory) suggested some hypotheses on chronological and cultural framing. By corroborating the archaeological-historical record, the forensic data and criminal investigation data to which we added the results of the 14C analyzes we have succeeded in identifying the period during which the tragic events took place north of Iasi. Rezumat: Prin descoperirea fortuită de la Horlești-Hățaș, comuna Rediu, județul Iași, s-a adeverit încă o dată că întâmplarea poate juca un rol important în cercetarea arheologică. Aici, în fața unui spațiu de locuit, cu ocazia unor lucrări mecanice, a fost descoperită o groapă comună conținând resturile osteologice care provin de la peste 200 indivizi. Caracterul excepțional al contextului funerar (spațiu restrâns, număr mare de indivizi, alinierea craniilor, urmele unor contuzii sau răni, absența inventarului funerar) ne-au sugerat trei ipoteze de lucru privind încadrarea cronologică și culturală. Prin coroborarea informațiilor arheologico-istorice, de medicină legală și cele de investigare criminalistică la care am adăugat rezultatele analizelor 14C am reușit o posibilă identificarea a perioadei în care s-au desfășurat evenimentele tragice de la nord de Iași.
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Settlements of Life and Death. Studies from Prehistory to Middle Ages, Cluj-Napoca, 2016, 407-428
UNCOVERING A PECULIAR MASS GRAVE
IN EASTERN ROMANIA
___________________________________________________________________________
Neculai BOLOHAN
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, Romania
e-mail: neculaibolohan1@gmail.com
Carmen Simona IONESCU
“Institute of Legal Medicine, Iaşi, Romania
Irinel ROTARIU
Military Prosecutor’s Office, Iaşi, Romania
Abstract:The fortuitous discovery from Horlesti-Hăţaş, Rediu commune, Iaşi County, proved once again the
important role played by chance in archaeological research. Here, in front of a living space, on the occasion of
some mechanical works, was found a mass-grave containing the osteological remains of more than 200
individuals. The exceptional character of the funerary context (limited space, large number of individuals, skull
alignment, traces of contusions or wounds, absence of the funerary inventory) suggested some hypotheses on
chronological and cultural framing. By corroborating the archaeological-historical record, the forensic data and
criminal investigation data to which we added the results of the 14C analyzes we have succeeded in identifying
the period during which the tragic events took place north of Iasi.
Rezumat: Prin descoperirea fortuită de la Horlești-Hățaș, comuna Rediu, județul Iași, s-a adeverit încă o dată
întâmplarea poate juca un rol important în cercetarea arheologică. Aici, în fața unui spațiu de locuit, cu
ocazia unor lucrări mecanice, a fost descoperită o groapă comună conținând resturile osteologice care provin de
la peste 200 indivizi. Caracterul excepțional al contextului funerar (spațiu restrâns, număr mare de indivizi,
alinierea craniilor, urmele unor contuzii sau răni, absența inventarului funerar) ne-au sugerat trei ipoteze de
lucru privind încadrarea cronologică și culturală. Prin coroborarea informațiilor arheologico-istorice, de
medicină legală și cele de investigare criminalistică la care am adăugat rezultatele analizelor 14C am reușit o
posibilă identificarea a perioadei în care s-au desfășurat evenimentele tragice de la nord de Iași.
Keywords: mass-grave, eastern Romania, Late Middle Age.
Cuvinte cheie: mormânt colectiv, estul României, perioada târzie a Evului Mediu.
DOING FORENSIC ARCHAEOLOGY
The funerary archaeology has a long history and remarkable success. The subject of this
contribution does not only propose such type of approach. This experience is also a
necessary step for developing the specific skills for such a field of investigation. We have to
admit from the outset that locally, the forensic archaeology, the battlefield archaeology and
the study of trauma in skeletal remains are in a prolonged childhood
1
. Although the eastern
area of the Carpathians was an area with many military conflicts during the Middle Ages,
very little clear data survived on the participants, their number, the social or military
condition, the place of the conflicts etc. Some recent local experiences in the field of forensic
1
Forsom et al. 2017, 13; Diana 2015, 129-139.
408 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
investigation
2
gave us a support for a new attempt. This was possible by building a
collaborative platform that included specialists in archaeology, history, physics, chemistry,
military prosecution, legal medicine, forensics, and pyrotechnics. During the investigation in
the field some residents from the area gave us the first oral history data. They were the ones
who told us that during the years, on the place called Hăţaş, human osteological remains
appeared on the occasion of agricultural works. Although these "incidents" were reported to
local institutions, no investigation of the site was carried out. In recent years, with the
expansion of real estate investments, the place called Hățaș has become much more
frequented. This situation triggered, through hazard, the multidisciplinary research of an
unusual funerary context.
During the mechanical excavation of a trench in a courtyard of a house (Pl. 1) situated in
Horlești village, Rediu Commune, Iași County (Pl. 2), it was cut a funerary context along the
length of approximately 4.50m and the depth of between 0.50-0.70m. The activity continued
until the mechanic was stopped by the building owner, who has announced the local
authorities (Municipality, local police). It was opened a case of judicial investigation which
came under the direction of Military Prosecutor of the Military Tribunal in Iaşi. This institution
asked us to perform archaeological investigation of the context represented by a mass grave
(Pl. 3). Preventive archaeological research was carried out by members of the Faculty of
History at the "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" University in Iași. The site under investigation is located
in the central-eastern part of Iași County, on the territory of Horleşti Village, Rediu Commune,
on the left side of the road DJ 282/DJ646, Iaşi-Gropnita, km 14 + 520 (Pl. 1-2) and is owned by
the Daniela and Albert Rediu family
3
. Together with the representatives of the institutions
involved we proceeded to the immediate extraction and recovery, registration and storage of
osteological remains from the dump. First, the entire surface was investigated with the metal
detector by the officers from Inspectorate for Emergency Situation Iași (ISU Iași). Several
shrapnel from mortars and cartridges have been identified but no artifacts have been found
(Pl. 4). Then the excavated earth and the gravel were removed from the surface of the entire
burial context so that we could delimit the archaeological investigation area and identify any
soil-marks that could give us data about the surface of the site. The building owner as well as
the workers told us that they had already removed the entire surface above the funerary
context. The technical team from ISU Iaşi informed us that many elements of ammunition or
military activities from 1940-1944 were extracted from this area. This situation was confirmed
after the onset of the archaeological research.
To extend the documentation, we turned to the oral history sources in the area. There
were two possible variants regarding the occurrence of mass-graves on the territory of the
village of Horleşti. The first source, Costache Crudu (born in 1936) told us that in the
southernmost part of the village of Horleşti, a local landlord named Vaciuc, owner of 20
hectares, had brought small communities from Neamț County with a precarious social-
economic condition to participate in occasional agricultural work. He confessed that his
grandmother Profira Crudu (born in 1880) told him in the 1960s that members of these
2
The research of a mass-grave in the area of Popricani commune, Iași County may be considered as
a first attempt in the area of local forensic archaeology. Unpublished work.
3
The entire research team thanks the Rediu`s family for supporting the project in September-
October 2015.
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 409
communities had cholera and "buried each other sometime before 1916". The second source
is Gheorghe Cordun (born in 1930), who reported that after the war some villagers were
forced to gather the human remains on the former line of the front, which were deposited in
the cemetery either in the village area. The same source reported that the skulls of men and
bones were buried. Some of these human remains were wearing soldierly clothing or
footwear. No information was provided about the exact place of burial.
OBJECTIVES OF PREVENTIVE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH
For the proper conduct of the forensic investigation we have proposed the statement of
some objectives as follows: identification, supervision and monitoring, from the
archaeological point of view, of the area affected by the investment project, based on
specialized standards and procedures;research and protection of the area in order to identify
the archaeological monuments, to determine their spatial distribution and to obtain the
scientific data about them; the registration, collection, preservation and restoration of the
mobile archaeological heritage, for the purpose of its scientific and museum value;
performing rescue interventions on the archaeological potential spotted in the area.
In this research we proposed the archaeological investigations in the funeral discovery
identified during its partial accidental damage in order to enlarge the image of the quantity,
the content and the spatial distribution of different types of connections between the
components of the funerary context. For the same area, we intend to identify, research and
valorize any kind of archaeological monument found in the area where archaeological
intervention will take place.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
In the first stage of the investigations, after preliminary bibliographic documentation and
after capitalizing sources of local oral history, we initiated the use of ordinary non-
destructive methods (naked eye observations on the current environment to identify any
signs concerning the soil marks), as well as field survey in order to identify the remnants of
different types of anthropic intervention, their frequency on the surface unit, the spatial
distribution, the connection of recovered artefacts with other similar discoveries in the
workspace. The end of this stage was marked by the summary processing of the recovered
material, the recording in the working drawings and the evaluation of the distribution.
The detached personnel from ISU-Iaşi have been permanently accompanying us in
field research and throughout the excavation. They have been tasked with identifying,
marking and hunting ammunition in the area under archaeological investigation.
During the second stage, the archaeological research strategy was designed which in
the present case presupposed the use of destructive interventions by manually realizing the
research units. Particular attention has been paid to the separate selection and storage of soil
types (arable and sterile) as well as to the observance of the initial pedological layout of the
soil layers when covering the uncovered surfaces.
The small size of the researched area of about 28m2has called for a single stratigraphic
section, which exploits the mechanic trench accidentally made by the excavation equipment.
The excavation unit (CAS 1) was designed in the corner of N-E of the private property, on
the surface where human osteological remains were extracted mechanically. Inside this unit,
410 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
we designed a trench (S1) to produce stratigraphic observations on the extent of the funerary
discovery (Pl. 5).
By proposing this research project, we wanted to respond to all the goals we have set
ourselves, objectives that imply the identification, investigation, registration, chronological
and cultural framing of the monument.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY METHODS
Excavation of this site was accomplished according to archaeological procedures. All
relevant data were recorded, mapped, measured, photographed, and described, along with
the information on the bones and all the artifacts found. After that, the bones were removed,
placed in containers, and transported for further analysis to the Institute of Forensic
Medicine, Iaşi.
In the laboratory of forensic anthropology, the material was cleaned using soft brushes
and water, dried, and partially reconstructed. The remains were examined to determine
ancestry, sex, age, and stature and to differentiate human from non-human bone
4
. Sex
estimation was performed by examining the traits of the pelvis, skull and long bones
5
. Age
was estimated by examining the occlusal wear, changes of the pubic symphysis using the
Suchey-Brooks method and ossification of the innominate
6
. Ancestry was assessed by visual
identification of skull traits that differ among the three major population groups (European,
African and Asian), especially of the teeth (because the majority of the bones of the face were
absent)
7
. Due to the fact that the skeletons were considerably damaged postmortem,
antemortem stature was not possible to be determined. The remains were analyzed in detail
for signs of disease, injury, or skeletal anomalies. The following data were recorded for each
detected traumatic injury: anatomic region, bone type, bone segment, dimensions (length,
width, and maximum depth), pattern, aspects of margins, angles, direction of fractures,
callus formation, etc. Determination of the chronology of injuries was based on
characteristics of trauma, especially taking account of fractures edges and patterns, colour
changes, surface alterations
8
. Injuries were considered antemortem, when there was a visible
sign of osteogenic response, perimortem, with no visible bone reaction, sharp, straight
fracture edges, no colour changes, and postmortem, having modification in shape combined
with loss of bones segments, cracks, breaking nearly at right angles, with almost flat ends,
without radiating fractures, no evidence of bending
9
. For extending the evaluation of
interpersonal violence, the identification of traumatic injuries was followed by analysis of
their frequency and distribution. For this purpose, the injuries were recorded as affecting one
of five aspects of the skull: anterior, posterior, superior, left lateral and right lateral
10
.
4
Byers 2005, 61-71.
5
Byers 2005, 61-71; Krogman, Iscan 1986, 148-164.
6
Scheuer et al. 2000, 341-373; Janz 2013, 54-59.
7
Janz 2013, 54-59.
8
Cattaneo, Porta 2009, 2557-2561.
9
Byers 2005, 61-71; Cattaneo, Porta 2009, 2557-61; Kimmerle, Baraybar 2008, 58-61.
10
Byers 2005, 61-71; Fernandez et al. 2015.
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 411
RESULTS
The funerary context is the result of collecting and depositing the osteological human
remains into a mass grave after the death of a significant number of individuals
(approximately 200)10. The taphonomic history of the site shows that there are a considerable
number of skulls showing postmortem
11
anatomical distortion. Some distortion is due to the
in situ positioning of the skulls. The skulls which were deposited in the lateral position were
much more pressed than the other skulls (Pl. 6/a-d). The top layer of bone remains was
subjected to numerous mechanical interventions.
The following observations have to be included in order to understand the history of
the place. The majority of the osteological remains are represented by individual males of
mature age. Of the huge number of osteological remains it was identified only a bone from a
juvenile and some bones from a female. By contrast to other forensic cases undergone by the
team when referring to the general state of health and hygiene one can see the poor
condition of dentition and the absence of traces of surgery or dentistry intervention (Pl. 7).
Due to different perimortem or postmortem conditions it stands out the quasi-absence
of bones of the feet (tarsus, metatarsals, phalanges) and hands (carpal, metacarpal,
phalanges).
The deposition of bone remains without respecting local religious or cultural customs
is another matter of question. During the excavation one can see the intermingled bones
coming from different anatomical contexts (Pl. 8).
Even though the filling of the pit was sieved there were no traces of clothing, shoes,
personal property in order to guide the team to accomplish the history of the place. The only
artifacts unearthed at the top of the archaeological context are represented by 153 fragments
of different types of modern and contemporary pottery and glass, fragments of plastic,
rubber, wires and fragments of amunition to be dated to the mid of the 20th century (Pl. 4).
All remains were incomplete and fragmented, due to considerable post-mortem
damage. The anthropological analysis of the bones (Fig. 1) revealed no pathological or
degenerative changes, but a lot of injuries, which were classified as ante, peri and
postmortem (Fig. 2), as follows:
Antemortem injuries (Pl. 9)
In five cases were identified signs of antemortem trauma, as healed fractures, with round
edges: on a left parietal of M152, on a left frontal of M179, on an occipital of M199, on a right
frontal from M142 and on a left parietal of M181-181B). The location and aspects of the
injuries from M179 and M199 suggests cut marks, consistent with a bladed weapon such as a
knife, bayonet, etc., with perpendicular impact for M199 injury. The healed injury from
M152 could be a chop mark, having one side of the fracture even and the other one uneven,
consistent with a long bladed weapon such as a sword. The healed fractures from M142 and
M181-181B) show penetrating injuries, one caused by a pointed weapon, round section, by 5
mm diameter, such as an arrow (M181-181B) and one by a corner of a triangular pyramidal
object (M142).
11
Jurda et al. 2015, 545-547
412 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
Perimortem injuries (Pl. 10)
Forty-eight perimortem trauma were identified from all bone fragments. Of the total
number, 45 were cranial (eight on anterior, eight on right lateral, eight on left lateral, nine
superior and 12 posterior) and three post-cranial on right femur, left tibia, posterior part of
lumbar vertebra; 42 cranial injuries were consistent with sharp-force trauma, only one
projectile trauma and two blunt-force trauma whereas postcranial injuries only two with
sharp-force and one projectile trauma. Among cranial sharp-force trauma, one was made by
a pointed weapon, of 5mm diameter and round section. The rest of them were a chop mark,
morphologically characterized by a fracture with smooth surface, resulted when the weapon
stroked the bone and a defect represented by an irregular surface that resulted as the blade
was removed from the bone, consistent with a long bladed weapon such as a bayonet or
sword. Only one cranial injury was a fracture, representing blunt force injury, produced by
fall or blow with a blunt instrument, such as hammer, club, brick, stone etc. and one was a
spherical projectile trauma represented by a round shape entrance wound, without
bevelling, possible by a ball of stone or iron of 16mm with high velocity. The analysis of
postcranial injuries shows the following: a femur, on lateral facet, exhibits sharp force trauma
from a long bladed weapon, with a blade partially straight and partially serrated; a tibia
lateral facet shows spherical projectile trauma – a round shape entrance wound, possible by
a ball of stone or iron of 16mm diameter, and a lumbar vertebra sharp force trauma from a
pointed weapon, square section, edge of 4.1mm, possibly by an arrow, with perpendicular
impact, in a posterior-anterior direction.
Postmortem injuries (Pl. 11)
Post-mortem injuries were found especially on the skulls from 15 individuals in the first
layer of the mass grave, near the surface, probably as a result of agricultural machinery and
tools in recent period when the field near mass grave was used for agriculture. The most
characteristic lesion was a semicircular, oblique cut of the skull, with irregular surface; in one
case, this type of injury was found on a skull fragment that not continued on the other
fragment of the same bone, proving that was inflicted after death, when the skull was
already fragmented.
Due to the absence of soft tissues, it was not possible to establish the cause of death,
except of one case, where it was considered that the spherical projectile trauma from the
skull of M104 is consistent with violent death by a ball of stone or iron of 16mm diameter
with high velocity.
The extended or semiflexed positions
12
of the skeletons and backbone remnants provide
informations on the postmortem state of the body when was burried
13
. For situations when
backbones and spinal bones were identified in association with portions of rib or pelvic bone it
can be assumed that the thoracic collapse occurred on-site in a ossuary pit (Pl. 12).
For some bones one can observe the presence of traces of trauma on a significant number
of skulls. These signs seem to have been the result of using sharp edge artifacts, like knives or
12
Dupras et al. 2006, 113, Fig. 7.3.
13
Dogăroiu 2011, 92.
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 413
swords during some violent military events
14
. We do not exclude the possibility that some of
the skulls, at least those in the first layer, have been affected as a result of agricultural work.
Fig. 1. Total number of analyzed osteological remains
Fig. 2. Timing of producing the injuries.
CONCLUSIONS
The anthropological examination of skeletal remains offered insights on the biological profile
of individuals and determined the most likely cause of death, which could serve as direct
evidence of past warfare. Using morphological and anthropological analyses, remains were
shown to contain bones of more than 200 adult European individuals, most part of them male,
minimum one female and one juvenile. Considerable postmortem damage and changes of the
bones compromised the possibility to estimate the precise age and stature of the individuals.
14
Lewis 2008; Nicklisch et al. 2015, Fig. 11; Boylston 2004, 40-43, Fig. 15; Roberts, Connell 2004, 24-40;
Constantinescu et al. 2015, 112; Andreica et al. 2016, 373-376.
414 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
Perimortem injuries, as cut marks, cranial fractures, spherical projectile trauma, and
pointed marks were identified in 32 out of approximately 200 cases, in 16% percentage,
predominant on the skulls in 94% of cases. We could not exclude the possibility that
fragmentations of bones in uncertain cases were the result of the same injuries. The
anthropological examination of skeletal remains comes to offer direct evidence on this
regard. In spite of considerable postmortem bones damage, the analysis revealed a high
frequency of traumatic pathology.
The funerary context is the result of collecting and depositing the osteological human
remains into a mass grave after the death of a significant number of approximately 200
individuals (Pl. 13). This funerary context could be attributed to some military events
occurring in the 16-17th century or during the Russian-Austrian-Turkish wars, when the area
in the vicinity of the Prut River was a permanent territory for conducting any kind of
military confrontation. This was the working hypothesis!
During the the research, through the Military Prosecutor's Office of Iasi
15
, four samples
of human bones were sent for RC analysis
16
. Two of them, coming from M44 (R_48-1) and
M128 (R_48-4), yielded results that are below 60% confidence in the range. For better
understanding the results it was used a RC data obtained from a single human bone M 197
(R_48-3) from the mass-grave, where the RC data is 75,5% confidence in the 2σ range.
Finally, we obtained the following inference regarding the history of a place
17
.
In plotting the overlapping portion of the calibration intervals that were obtained a
probability is noted for the second half of the 15th century - first half of 17th century, where
there is the greatest density of probability that the actual date belong to this range. The 13
INTC calibration curve shows (Fig. 3), compared to the corresponding portion for uniformly
increasing the 17th century, an area of increasing and one of decreasing. Therefore, the
results of calibration will be scattered by the two branches of the graph area. As a
consequence, the grouping of the four results (the same sigma value for the four cases) can
be performed for an increment of 50 years. In the light of the foregoing it can be said with
certainty that the four people died no earlier than 1400 and no later than 1800 CAL. AD, most
likely no earlier than 1450 and no later than 1650 CAL. AD, taking into account the increment
15
All the samples were collected and send for RC analysis by the partners from the Military
Prosecutor Office in Iași.
16
All RC analyzes were performed within IFIN-HH (Horia Hulubei National Institute for R&D in
Physics and Nuclear Engineering), RoAMS Laboratory by T. Sava, C. Simion, G. Sava, O. Gâza, I.
Stanciu, D. Păceșilă, B. Ștefan according to an institutional agreement with the Military
Prosecutor’s Office, Iaşi, Romania.
17
Differences in RC data may be caused by different post-mortem exposure conditions and by
different age of the individuals and by different other conditions. For a full analysis of the RC data
obtained from human bone a human bone collagen offset (HBCO) correction is required. A
working hypothesis is extremely important and its invocation reveals the need for a
multidisciplinary approach: It should also be noted that radiocarbon analysis does not date the death of
an individual but rather the period of growth during which the carbon was deposited in the bone and then
gradually replaced. This means that the age of the individual must also be taken into account”. See,
Nicklisch et al. 2007, 23. For understanding the core of HBCO and the importance of this correction
when working with RC data and the need of complementary data from the field of Physical
Anthropology, see, Barta, Štolc, 2007.
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 415
used for calibration (Fig. 4). As a consequence, they belong to the Classic/Late Middle Age. If
we associate the result of observations during archaeological research (four people suffered a
violent death in about the same time), we can select a sub-interval where the probability is
nonzero in all cases and resulting in the following scenario: the Ottoman campaign in
Moldavia during the time of Petru Rareș, woiewod of Moldavia (1527-1538, 1541-1546),was
carried out in the autumn of 1538 by Suleyman the Magnificent, the atack of Moldavia being
sustained from the east by the Crimean Tatar`s khan
18
. To them has joined the Polish army,
too
19
. Thus, Petru Rareș was forced to call a major mobilization on the north of the country to
perform military maneuvers on the interior lines in the Suceava, Iași and Botoșani areas
20
.
Fig. 3. IntCal 13 Calibration Curve.
In 1538 the Ottomans occupied the entire territory of Moldavia but soon after,according to a
Ottoman document,they sudendly attacked and burned the town of Iași
21
and at the
beginning of October 1538 they have left the country
22
. The southern area, Bugeac and
Tighina/Bender became an Ottoman raya and were colonized with Tatars. The moment
marked the end of first period of Petru Rareș’s ruling as a woiewod and the beginning of the
18
Cronici turcești I, 227-228.
19
Cronicile slavo-române, 98-102, 184; Cronici turcești I, 268; Gemil 1978, 156.
20
Cronici turcești I, 225, 228; Gemil 1978, 157-158.
21
Cronici turcești I, 268.
22
Gorovei 1978, 165.
416 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
early Ottoman rule over Moldavia
23
. In this whirlwind of events may be included the
Ottoman presence in Moldavia. They participated in numerous plunder activities and to
what has been called the “blood tribute”
24
.
Fig. 4. Calibrated date.
According to these inferences can be drawn a history of the dramatic circumstances
happened in eastern Moldavia toward the mid of the 16th century. However, in the absence
of any artefacts associated with the skeletal remains, the funerary context can not be dated
very safely
25
. The characters of this drama are represented by the local inhabitants who were
probably victims of the events of that period. According to this working hypothesis we do
not exclude that the human remains have belonged to some soldiers
26
involved in this cloudy
situation. They have no clothes or footwear, they missed hands and foot bones and many
skulls were obviously separated from the rest of the body. After a perimortem time they
were buried in uncertain conditions. The statement is supported by the dimension of the
funerary area, the deposition of the bone remains, the absence of the funerary inventory, the
precarity of the entire mass-grave.
The absence of any funerary ritual, personal objects of deceased used in a burial
ceremony and lack of evidences of pathological death are strong evidences to sustain this
hypothesis. Moreover, the presence of many large blade injuries on their skulls and their
large numbers indicate that the victims were effectively involved in the fight, and the
weapons that produced these injuries were easy to handle. The large number of victims, at
least 206, and the evidence that most of the examined bones belong to men indicate a battle
involving at least 500 combatants equipped with sharp objects and firearms. Healed injuries
are evidence that some of the victims were involved in previous battles and suffered the
same type of blade wounds long before their death and burial in Horleşti. On this basis of
evidences Military Prosecutor’s Office Iași, by ordinance 295/P/2015/16.05.2016
27
,closed the
case Horlești, regarding war as an unincriminated fact under the Penal Code.
23
Gemil 1978, 158; Gorovei 1978, 164.
24
Gorovei 1978, 173.
25
Forsom et al. 2017, 13.
26
In some cases, individuals have traces of older wounds that have been healed like at M142, M152.
See, Pl. 9.
27
Unpublished.
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 417
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The financial support for Neculai Bolohan was provided by the PCCA 1153/2011, No.
227/01.10.2012 Genetic Evolution: New Evidences for the Study of Interconnected Structures.
A Biomolecular Journey around the Carpathians from Ancient to Medieval Times
(GENESIS).
Neculai Bolohan expresses his warmly thanks to dr. Corina Simion from IFIN-HH,
RoAMS Laboratory, for the initial suggestions concerning the periodization and chronology
of the funerary context.
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Mass grave found in Dorset The Viking death squads who got a taste of their own medicine:
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2091401/Viking-death-squads-mass-grave-shows-Anglo-
Saxons-hit-invaders.html#ixzz4l24ya9ut
420 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
Pl. 1. The house and the funerary context damaged by a domestic trench.
Pl. 2. The location of the mass grave from Horlești-Hățaș village (Atlas Explorer 4.12.1013.72569,
http://atlas.anpm.ro/atlas#)
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 421
Pl. 3. Horlești-Hățaș. The mass grave. View from the north.
Pl. 5. The projection of the archaeological unit.
422 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
Pl. 6. a-d. Samples of distorted crania.
Pl. 7. Dentition. Detail.
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 423
a
b
Pl. 8. Intermingled bones.
424 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
a
b
Pl. 9. Antemortem injuries: a. M142; b. M152.
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 425
Pl. 10. Perimortem injuries: a. M9; b. M27; c. M29; d. M58b; e. M119; f. M152;g. M 166a; h. M202.
426 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
Pl. 11. Postmortem injuries: a. M79; b. M157d; c. M158.
Uncovering a peculiar Mass Grave in Eastern Romania 427
Pl. 12. Samples of thoracic collapsed on-site.
428 Neculai BOLOHAN, Carmen Simona IONESCU, Irinel ROTARIU
Pl. 13. Collecting and depositing human bones.
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Identificarea persoanei în medicina legală, București
  • C Dogăroiu
  • Dupras
Dogăroiu, C., Identificarea persoanei în medicina legală, București. 2011. Dupras et al. 2006
  • T Gemil
  • Agresiunea Otomano-Tătaro-Poloneză Și Căderea Lui Petru Rareș
Gemil 1978 T. Gemil, Agresiunea otomano-tătaro-poloneză și căderea lui Petru Rareș. In: L. Șimanschi (coord.), Petru Rareș. București, 1978, 151-161. Gorovei 1978 Ș. S. Gorovei, Domnia lui Ștefan Lăcustă. In: L. Șimanschi (coord.), Petru Rareș. București, 1978, 161-175.