Archaeologists to use radar, mini-camera, to explore Rozmberk crypt
Archaeologists from the Museum of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice have been putting together a project to explore an underground level of the famous Cistercian monastery in Vyssi Brod, which houses the final resting place of the monastery's original founders, the Rozmberks. The vault was sealed almost 400 years ago after the death of nobleman Petr Vok - the last in the family line - and was never again reopened. Archaeologists now sense room for discovery.
"We're doing non-destructive research in the whole area of the Church of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary, of which the monastery is of course a part. The monastery was founded in 1259 and it was always intended that the Rozmberks be buried below the church. But the exact location of the crypt remains uncertain: it is most likely to lie beneath the church's most significant spot, that is, before the altar in the presbytery, but we do not know for sure. Around 23 men and 17 women were buried there, but for them to have all been buried in one crypt is unlikely."
Archaeologists and team specialists will first use cutting-edge technology, including geological radar, to measure and produce a full layout of the grounds and its forgotten interiors. Tiny two-centimetre wide holes will then be drilled for a mini-camera to be lowered. The probe should explore - as well as record - areas of the crypt, eventually providing information for a detailed 3-D computer model, even of Petr Vok himself. Zuzana Thomova again:
Numerous legends abound about the final resting place of the Rozmberks, among them that anyone who disturbs the noble family vault will be cursed and will die within a year. Other legends pertain to World War II, when the monastery grounds were occupied by the SS and used to store, among other things, stolen artefacts. One legend, dating back to the 17th century, states that the Rozmberks were not buried in coffins at all but were left in chairs in seated positions - which specialists say is almost certainly untrue. By next year, when research takes place, archaeologists should know the truth. Experts from the team and Museum of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice hope to release all their findings for the Vyssi Brod monastery's 750th anniversary in 2009.