During archaeological works relating to an investment in Cracow, a graveyard has been encountered with over 1600 human skeletons. If human remains are discovered during implementation of an investment, works should be suspended and the closest police unit should be informed. Encountering archaeological finds gives rise to the need of their preservation and notification of the Voivodeship Monument Conservator.

Archaeological discoveries during construction works are a frequent reason for investment delays, and sometimes may even preclude completion of an investment. This may happen, e.g., in Cracow, where, during works relating to construction of a hotel and an apartment building, ruins of a medieval church, monastery and hospital were discovered, as well as a graveyard, dated back to XIV century with over 1600 human skeletons.

The investor had all permissions

In that case, however, one could expect finds of such type. The investment is located in the historic part of Cracow, where St. Hedwig’s church and a hospital were situated. The construction was protested by residents and councilmen of the Old Town district, however, the investor obtained all permissions, including from the Małopolskie Voivodeship Monument Conservator.

Finds at the construction site will certainly delay the investment, but this does not mean that the investor is going to resign from it. According to the investor’s assertions, the remains have been secured, transported and buried. However, there remains the question of ruins and other archaeological finds. The conservator may permit continuation of the interrupted works if further construction does not lead to their damage. However, if the discovered monument has exceptional value, the conservator may suspend the investment even for half a year – says Jacek Kosiński from the law firm Jacek Kosiński Advocates and Legal Advisers.

What happens to the hotel?

Small items, such as coins or vessels are taken away from the place where they were found, and after being examined by historians they usually end up in a museum. On the other hand, where the objects found at the construction site are, e.g., fragments of a settlement or ruins of a construction from several centuries ago, the conservator may, on account of tremendous value of the discovery, order them to be left where they were fond. In such situation, the only thing left to the investor is to resign from further works or properly preserve the archaeological find and incorporate it into the building under construction.

When to notify the police and when the conservator?

The Act of 23 July 2003 on the protection and care of monuments specifies obligations of an investor who, during construction or earthworks comes across an object presumed to be a monument. Article 32 of the Act requires to suspend all works that might damage or destroy the discovered object, preserve it by available means and promptly notify the discovery to the competent Voivodeship Monument Conservator, and where this is not possible – to the mayor of the city or village. Where human remains are found, it is necessary to inform the police, who will notify the fact to the prosecutor’s office, and the latter will take further steps to resolve the matter.