THE MULTI-FAITH CEMETERY ON ST. MARIA MAGDALENA HILL IN BIALYSTOK IN ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOURCES (Cmentarz wielowyznaniowy na wzgorzu sw. Marii Magdaleny w Bialymstoku w swietle zrodel archeologicznych i historycznych)
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The history of the multi-faith cemetery on the St. Maria Magdalena Hill, despite its late metrics, contains numerous unexplained facts and is a source of controversy among the Bialystok community. It was possible to explain some of them due to the correlation of an analysis of historical sources and the results of archaeological research. On this basis it was established that the cemetery hadbeen founded as a Catholic one in 1760 or a couple of years earlier. Originally the dead were buried around the chapel. Not later than from the beginning of the XIX century till the forties of the twentieth century the place functioned as a multi-faith Christian cemetery. In the twenties of the twentieth century the territory of the hill was divided into three burial parts: the Catholic one - around the chapel, at the top of the hill; the Uniate one - on the north-western slope of the hill and the Orthodox one situated probably on the opposite side of the alley leading to the chapel - in the north-eastern part of the hill. These areas might have functioned as separate cemeteries. The whole St. Maria Magdalena Hill became a cemetery after being taken over by the Orthodox Church around 1843-1846. Its area, surrounded by a cemetery wall, could only be reconstructed, thanks to cartographic sources, in the eighties of the nineteenth century. The analysis of demographic changes of the Biaystok population at the end of the XVIII century and in the XIX century, correlated with the number of graves examined in the excavated part of the cemetery and the minimal number of people based on anthropological analysis, enabled the estimation of the number of burials that had taken place in the cemetery in the whole period of its functioning at around 11 thousand, and this figure should be considered as highly underestimated.
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