I have been away again since my Poland venture, to Brno in the Czech Republic for a week in June 2014. We stayed in the city centre either side of a 5 day intensive bone analysis, which took place at the dig site itself. The archaeological site of Těšetice is about an hour’s drive from Brno, and is also on the edge of a forest and in the middle of nowhere. So two rather different locations for this blog post! We’ll get the archaeology stuff out of the way first 😀
The assemblage from Těšetice was the best one I’ve had so far, being of a nice size and with lovely preservation. The size actually turned out to be a little too big, and I ended up staying til 11pm some evenings feverishly working to get it done! On the last two days I even had two lovely postdoc helpers laying out the bones for me, which was really helpful but made me have production-line style dreams where I would finish one thing and immediately move on to the next one in a never ending circle of bone death. But in the end, bar two small contexts, I finished – about 5500 bones. Not as many as Poland, but there were far less tiny bone fragments to count up quickly. I certainly think that I worked the hardest on this assemblage of all the ones I’ve done so far!
Once the bones were finally done, it was time to head back to Brno. I had already done some sightseeing on the first day I was there as I arrived on an earlier flight. I looked at the castle and the cathedral and the Capuchin mummified monks. The mummies were really terrifying, all taut skin and fingernails and gaping eye-holes. I thought I would be OK with this as looking at dead stuff is kind of my job, but these people were too close to people for my liking (I didn’t take any photos. Too scared. Link for the curious http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capuchin_Crypt_in_Brno). On the return visit we went to a couple of museums and also an ossuary, which had loads and loads of human remains in it, but they were all long decayed to just bones. I found this creepy but so cool, I could look at the people objectively as they didn’t have skin any more. Thanks to my training in human osteology I could also tell the sex of some of the skulls, and saw some really gross dental abscesses that could have led to septicaemia and killed the poor dude. Totally. Awsome.
For the second weekend that we were in Brno on the Saturday it was some kind of festival! We still don’t know what for. All the public transport (including trams!) was replaced by traditional versions, including a horse-pulled tram that we went on! There was an exhibition of old bikes, with all the riders all dressed up. In the main square there was food, wine and beer and live music, and in the evening we went up to a cocktail bar on one of the rooftops and watched the fireworks from the castle. It was such a great weekend!
So Brno was my favourite place so far. A beautiful city with very cheap beer and food and fantastic tourist attractions. Cheap to fly to with Ryan Air and easily doable in a weekend, I would really recommend it for anyone wanting a break!
Next trip is hopefully going to take place in August at some point, so watch this space!