Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Archaeologists find medieval Jewish tombstones in Prague

Archaeologists have uncovered valuable medieval Jewish tombstones during the excavations in Prague's historical centre near Narodni street, Tomasz Cymbalak, from the National Heritage Institute, has told journalists.

The tombstones, probably from a closed Jewish cemetery nearby, were used for the construction of a house, he added.

"Similar finds are quite typical in the areas near cemeteries, not only in Prague," Cymbalak added.

The archaeologists do not expect to find some Jewish graves during the research in the area, preceding the planned construction of the multipurpose Copa Centre at the site. If they did it, it would considerably complicate the project.

In such a case Jewish organizations would insist on preserving a commemorative character of the place, which occurred during the construction of garages in a nearby street ten years ago. Jewish rabbis then staged demonstrations in the Czech Republic and abroad.

Archaeologists point out that the excavations are among the most significant in the historical centre in the Czech capital in the past years.

The previous finds of early medieval pottery fragments, for instance, prove the existence of a settlement on the boundaries of the Old and New Towns of Prague in the 12th century, Cymbalak recalls.

The archaeologists' team plans to explore almost 3500 square metres in the locality, which is more than a half of the total construction area. However, they say the site was considerably damaged during construction in the 1970s.