Archaeological Investigations in Bełżec
Based on the data taken from Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, the investigations that were carried out at Bełżec were different from any investigation done prior to it. At the beginning, the importance of this site and the enormous number of victims did not seem like it could be a great part of history. The last conducted investigation and excavation revealed the evidence of the overwhelming mass murders that occurred in that place. These archaeological investigations also confirmed the existence of evidence which showed that there was a Nazi attempt to hide the major size of the crime. Prior to the fourth investigation, which was undertaken between the years of 1997-2000, there were three other investigations in 1945, 1946 and 1961. The last investigation came as a result of the agreement between the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw, in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The methodology applied in all four investigations was more or less similar. It consisted of “marking out the area to be examined to a fixed grid system at 5 metre intervals (knots). Exploratory boreholes to a depth of 6 metres were made; obtaining core samples of the geological strata. A total of 2,001 archaeological exploratory drillings were carried out and were instrumental in locating 33 mass graves of varying sizes”. (http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ar/modern/archreview.html) Also the metal detector was used to examine the soil around the graves. (Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team).
Human remains are something that is traditionally associated with archaeology, but for the identification of the bodies found in the mass graves, the archaeological study of the skeleton (osteoarchaeology) can also be very beneficial. There is also taphonomy, which is the knowledge of the chemical and biological processes involved in materials´ degradation. These are only two of many disciplines that evolved from archaeology. (Haglund, 1996). These methods are very useful for forensic archaeology and archaeological conservation. By studying the decomposition processes of the human body after death, archaeologists will be able to connect items and evidence (e.g., fingerprints, hair, DNA, etc.) found on the site, and then by determining the levels of their preservation they can then make connections with the human remains. This is also very useful for law enforcement. (Standards and guidance for forensicArchaeologists)
Case study Rwanda 1996. And Kosovo
One of the biggest problems with analysing techniques and methods used by forensic archaeologists, in non-historic mass graves excavation, is the fact that almost all data is hidden under the veil of secrets. This raises many ethical questions and concerns. Despite this making no sense, it is the reality according to Steele...