Recovery of Missing Persons in Cyprus: Heavy Equipment Methods and Techniques for Complex Well Excavations
Journal of Forensic Sciences
Blackwell Publishing Inc.
1529 - 1533
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This technical note presents the methods and techniques developed by the Bi-communal Forensic Team (BCFT) of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) used to excavate and exhume the remains of missing persons, many of whom were buried in deep wells at sites across the island of Cyprus during the conflict period of the 1960s and 1970s. A total of 493 Turkish Cypriots and 1508 Greek Cypriots were officially reported missing by the two communities as a result of the conflict. Since the team's formation, in 2005, the BCFT has excavated 114 wells, resulting in the recovery of 195 missing individuals from 35 of these well excavations. The standard excavation approach used by the BCFT, especially for deep well recovery, consists of "ramp," "pocket," and "pool" components. These excavation features enable CMP archaeologists to excavate deep wells safely and efficiently while simultaneously permitting time for thorough documentation and unimpeded recovery of human remains. The team uses three variants of this approach to cope with the variety of geological, physical, and hydrological contexts faced in Cyprus' wells, including hard and soft landforms, the presence or absence of water, and limitations imposed by surrounding infrastructure. The "terracing", "double-ramp", and "single-ramp" variations are detailed with respect to the environmental contexts which prescribe their use. The BCFT's general procedures for human remains recovery and standard well safety protocols conclude the article. © 2015 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
KeywordsCommittee on Missing Persons in Cyprus
Excavation of wells