Thursday, March 29, 2018

Prague's Old Jewish Cemetery

The headline in my news feed grabbed my attention - as it was supposed to:  Archaeologists Find Gruesome Coffin Birth.    Both the woman and child had died, and were buried, before the so-called "birth."  As we all know, bodies that are not prepared by a mortician bloat; they swell with gases caused by the decomposition of the body.  This woman, buried more than 400 years ago, had undergone brain surgery, a trepanning, before her death while pregnant.  She was, of course, buried with the child she carried still inside her womb.  Once she was in her coffin and in her grave, the gases built up inside her abdominal cavity, and the dead child was expelled from her body.  The archaeologists "found the bones of the child" between her femurs and within her pelvis.  The term "coffin birth" really caught me off guard, however.
    And since I had been looking at photos of old cemeteries, it made me wonder what would be found in the old Prague Jewish Cemetery.  It is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague. It served its purpose from the first half of the 15th century up until 1786.  It now covers 2 acres and contains over 100,000 bodies, some of which are buried 12 deep.  It looks and seems incredible!  How I would love to visit this place!

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