Sillamäe asking for €92,000 in state aid for skeleton excavation ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Archaeological excavations in Sillamäe village cemetery.
Archaeological excavations in Sillamäe village cemetery. Source: Linda Vilumets

Sillamäe Mayor Tõnis Kalberg turned to the government with an application for €92,040 in compensation for archeological excavations conducted in the city, which saw a total of 118 skeletons uncovered.

In his letter to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa), Kalberg states that the city conducted excavations on the directive of the state and because the main street was not able to be closed off for an unspecified amount of time.

A total of 118 skeletons were uncovered, with each dig costing €780, adding up to a total of €92,040. Because the city lacks such funds and does not consider it reasonable to make changes to the budget on that scale, they hope to receive compensation for the excavations from the government.

Kalberg wrote: "Sillamäe lacks funding to cover archeological research and it is unreasonable that the city should make changes to its budget to cover for the costs."

Head of public relations at the Ministry of Culture Meelis Kompus could not yet able to comment on if such compensation can be allocated to the city.

Sillamäe City Government also turned to the National Heritage Board (Muinsuskaitseamet), but the board lacks legal basis and resources to assign such compensation.

The human remains were discovered during the reconstruction of Sillamäe's main street. According to archaeologist Martin Malve, the site may be an early modern cemetery. 

Malve said: "The bones were excavated during the construction of the culture house. There are gas and central heating pipes build down here which means the bones have been here and the locals have been aware of these skeletons all the time. Based on previous fieldwork experiences, it can often be said that locals know, but project designers, city government, archaeologists and historians are unaware." 

The findings from Sillamäe will be given to the University of Tartu for further research. 

 

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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