BASEL HOSPITAL CEMETERY
A combination of identified skeletons, medical records and genealogical research affords us a unique opportunity to gain detailed insights into lower class daily living conditions in 19th century Basel. At present, we know very little about the difficulties people faced in the early days of industrialisation. Through the Basel Hospital Cemetery project, we aim to come to a new understanding.
In 2008, studies began of the series of skeletons from the Basel Hospital Cemetery which are stored at the Natural History Museum Basel. The interdisciplinary research project lies at the crossroads of the natural sciences and the humanities.
The series includes almost 500 identified skeletons and more than 900 medical records relating to them. The project is affiliated with the Institute of Prehistory and Archaeological Science (IPNA). There is also a 'Citizen Science' project under the same name. Its participants gather comprehensive data such as medical records or census figures and conduct genealogical research.
The project has two ambitious goals. First, the unusual extent of fundamental data relating to identified skeletons and associated medical histories will allow us to check the validity of natural science methods – such as those used for estimating age at death – and to develop new methods. Second, the human skeletons are a bio-archive that can yield information on health and nutrition as well as the spread of disease.