SKELETONS FORMER HOSPITAL CEMETERY OF ST. JOHANN, BASEL
When the St. Johann Park was being built, parts of the old hospital cemetery were dug up in 1988 and 1989. A total of 1,061 graves were examined. 80% of these were able to be identified thanks to historical documents bearing names, professions, places of birth and illnesses. The skeletons therefore include an unusual combination of biological and historical sources.
Over 2,500 patients were buried in the hospital cemetery between 1845 and 1868. Most of the dead were maids, craftsmen, factory workers and servants, i.e. people from lower or middle social classes. At the end of the 1980s, 1,061 bodies were exhumed and analysed. Through a rare twist of fate, 80% of them could be identified. For virtually every person there was an associated medical record. The combination of the skeletal biological archive and the historical documents means that modern-day researchers can obtain detailed insights into the difficult living conditions of the lower or middle classes in the 19th century.
Of particular note are the remains of Magdalena Scherb, Barbara Sachser, Balthaser Fischer, and a skeleton with a plate in its rib cage as well as one with mercury infestation.