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Om dokumentasjon av arkeologiske gravfunn fra middelalder og nyere tid

Hommedal, A.T. & Sellevold, B. J. 2010: From dust to archive. On the documentation of medieval and recent graves from archaeological investigations., Stavanger, Norway.

The archaeological excavations in and around the medieval church ruin at Sola in 1986 provided the basis for developing innovative principles for documentation and storage of human skeletal remains from medieval and post-medieval churchyards. In this process, Jenny-Rita Næss was the instigator and an active and inspiring collaborator both during the field work, and not least, the post-excavation analyses and registration of the material concerning the application of the documentation principles for processing the archaeological evidence.
    One of the guiding principles for documentation was that human skeletal remains should be documented and treated in the same way as artefacts. It was decided that the archaeological material from the Sola church ruin should be subdivided into five groups. The material was catalogued accordingly: S10292 – the so-called “Bennetter” phase (the church ruin as a private residence); S10293 – the church phase minus the graves; S10294 – the graves and all associated material; S10295 – the bell-casting material; S10296 – finds from the late Iron Age. The skeletal remains and graves, catalogued as S10294, were allocated to one of two categories, namely 1) undisturbed graves with all contents, and 2) dispersed human bones from stratigraphic layers around and between the undisturbed graves. The undisturbed graves were numbered consecutively from 1 to 31, and the finds from the graves were sorted in subcategories: a) undisturbed skeletons and bones, b) dispersed bones in the grave fill, c) soil samples from undisturbed graves, d and following letters) artefacts, animal bones etc. The dispersed bones in the stratigraphic layers between the graves were catalogued according to the number of the given layer.
    The development of principles for cataloguing human skeletal remains was a pioneering project. From an archaeological as well as an osteoarchaeological point of view there are advantages associated with treating human bones in the same way as other archaeological finds, and with treating dispersed bones as a find category of its own: with careful documentation, the skeletal remains become more representative for the original population, and the demographic analyses become more reliable. When carefully documented, the dispersed bones can also contribute in answering archaeological questions, for example in interpretations of chronological sequences in parts of a cemetery. The documentation principles developed in collaboration with Jenny-Rita Næss have been applied in later archaeological investigations of churchyards. The information potential of human skeletal remains is significantly increased when the principles are applied, with the result that a rather neglected source material, namely dispersed human bones from disturbed graves, has turned out to be a most valuable source material in archaeology.

Alf Tore Hommedal, Bergen Museum, Universitetet i Bergen, Pb 4052, 5835 Bergen. Tlf: 55588023.
Berit J.Sellevold, NIKU – Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning, Pb 736 Sentrum, 0105 Oslo. Tlf: 23355050.

Key words: osteoarchaeology, church archaeology, medieval church ruin and graves, post-Reformation graves, dispersed bones, archaeological cataloging

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Fig 5 Grunnplan Sola Kirkeruin