The 21st Century Identified Skeletal Collection

This reference collection results from the sampling of recent individuals from Portuguese nationality and south European ancestry. The Colecção de Esqueletos Identificados do Século XXI (CEI/XXI) housed at the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology of the Life Sciences Department at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, currently comprises 302 documented adult skeletons from both sexes (however, not all are available for analysis).

The skeletons composing the collection were made available by the City Council of Santarém (responsible for the local Capuchos Cemetery), after a protocol allowing the bestowal of unclaimed skeletal remains was signed in 2009. This is possible because, according to ordinance n.8 411/98 of the 30th of December, non-judiciary exhumations can be carried out three years after inhumation as long as the body is completely skeletonized. This practice aims to allow the reuse of the burial ground. Skeletons unclaimed by relatives of the deceased, beyond the legal period, are put under the tutelage of the cemetery which can choose what do with them. Usually, the cemetery chooses to allocate the remains to a general burial ground where those are commingled with others. Also, unclaimed skeletons are often subjected to cremation and, again, allocated to a general burial ground. In the case of the Capuchos cemetery, the tutelage of some of the skeletons was transferred to the University of Coimbra to allow for scientific research and education.

Information regarding the personal details and funerary processing of the individuals is known, specifically: age-at-dead, sex, nationality, date of death, dates of inhumation and exhumation and the number of the burial slot. For more information regarding the collection, please read Ferreira et al. (2014) and Ferreira et al. (2020).