Saturday, July 2, 2011

UK: Skeletons Found in Norwich Well May be Those of Medieval Jews

Anti-Semitic cartoon of 1233 (during the reign of King Henry III) found on an Exchequer Roll. Photo: National Archives (UK)

UK: Skeletons Found in Norwich Well May be Those of Medieval Jews

A few years archaeologists excavated Jewish burials in Tarrega, Spain that showed evidence and violent death, and they put forward the hypothesis that the remains were of victims of a masscre of Jews in that Catalonian town, presumably an event from ca. 1391. Now new archeological evidence from Norwich, England points to the murder of Jews there. Skeletal remains of seventeen individuals found in a well in 2004 has been examined and researched and archaeologists and paleontologists now believe that these were Jewish victims - including many fomr the same family - of brutal murder.

According to a report published and broadcast by the BBC, "The most likely explanation is that those down the well were Jewish and were probably murdered or forced to commit suicide, according to scientists who used a combination of DNA analysis, carbon dating and bone chemical studies in their investigation. The skeletons date back to the 12th or 13th Centuries at a time when Jewish people were facing persecution throughout Europe....Seven skeletons were successfully tested and five of them had a DNA sequence suggesting they were likely to be members of a single Jewish family." Eleven of the bodies were of children from the ages of 2 to 15 with five of them below the age of five.

Dating of the deaths is not precise, especially since Norwich Jews were persecuted in many periods. They were accused in 1144 of the violent murder of the boy, William (of Norwich), the first recorded instance of the infamous "blood libel." Despite the rejection of the charges, the charge led to persecution and at least one community leader was killed. In 1190, at the time of the Third Crusade, many Jews were massacred in York and Norwich, where survivors purportedly took refuge in the city's castle. Still later persecutions including executions of Jews in Norwich in 1230. Jews were expelled from England in 1290.

Read full story here.

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