The Jewish Galicia and Bukovina organization carried out its latest annual Field School session with a thorough documentation of the old section of the centuries-old Jewish cemetery in Buchach, Ukraine.
The team cleared thick vegetation from the site, which sprawls on a hill above the town, and some 900 gravestones from the 16th, 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries were “discovered, unearthed, documented and photographed.” Many were elaborately carved, and the oldest was dated 1590. The JCB said participants were “stunned” by the artistic skill of the stone carvers, and by “the richness of visual and textual images on the tombstones.”
The expedition was the ninth Field School carried out by the JCB for university students and graduate students. As usual the team was led by Dr. Boris Khaimovich, an expert on Jewish gravestone art, and Dr. Ilia Lurie, both of Hebrew University.
Khaimovich told JHE that the full documentation included “finding all tombstones of the cemetery, cleaning, coping the epigraphy, taking a photograph and making a geodetic map of the Cemetery with the location of all gravestones.” The documentation will be analyzed and eventually uploaded to the JGB web site. He said:
There was an impenetrable forest and we cut it out. Some of the gravestones had fallen and were hidden by the earth. A lot of mazevot were broken. It was the preserved oldest part of the cemetery. A significant part of the cemetery has been destroyed. The stones were used for construction after World War II.
Khaimovich told JHE there is also a new part of the Buchach cemetery, with tombstones from the late 19th – early 20th century, which also requires clearing and for which documentation is also planned.
In previous Field School sessions, the JGB completed the full documentation of Jewish cemeteries in: Solotvin, Rozhniatov, Nadworna, Burshtyn, Lysiec, Pidhaitsy, Yabluniv, Kosiv, Bolehov, Pechenizhin, Tlust, Kuty, Vizhnitsya.