Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Morbid Taste For Teeth

Police in Austria have recently launched a manhunt for a grave-robber with a predilection for removing teeth and dentures from crypts and coffins in the Viennese General Cemetery.

Although grave desecration is not an uncommon crime, the manner in which the perpetrator has gone about doing such a thing is a little less cloak and dagger than normal - he's apparently filmed himself opening up tombs and using pliers to remove the teeth. The composers Johann Strauss and Johannes Brahms are two of the better known victims of this not so covert dental extraction.

The Belgian media have named this individual as Ondrej Jajcaj and it would appear, from a quick perusal of his Facebook account that they might be right. Here he is in his profile picture, with a skull on a stick and a pair of pliers.

Figure 1: Ondrej Jajcaj, courtesy of his own Facebook page.
Yep. Totally normal.
Further examination of his profile reveals a 'miscellaneous' photo folder, similar to one that you or I might have, with the only difference being the sheer quantity of dental artefacts and human remains he has in there... (although it is nice to see that even grave-robbers have a fun side though. Look at him being adorable with that goat!)

Figure 2: A Facebook screen-capture. Note all the dentures and
dental fixtures. They're all pretty vintage, they are.
Wonder where they came from.
Not content with Facebook, I poked a little bit more and found his Youtube account which features a whole host of videos that I can't possibly understand, many of which show him wandering through abandoned graveyards. The video that I found most fascinating however is the ominously titled 'Gold treasure in the woods' which has him beside a tree talking about a box of gold dentures and fillings (see below) and subsequently, fragments of actual human jaw and dental instruments.

Figure 3: A half buried tin of gold teeth.
We all have one of those, right?

Figure 4: I wish I could speak Slovakian, just to
have the faintest idea what's going on here.
On what might be his website there is reference to how Jajcaj wants his amassed collection of historic dental prosthetics to be put in a museum - which he admits might not be easy since the prosthetics were from 'old abandoned graves that he illegally investigated.' His motivation is something to do with Slovakia being a Catholic country and how science triumphs over religion - but I'm not really sure exactly what he's getting at.

Jajcaj's actions are of concern. It is certainly out of the norm behaviourally - how many people regularly take topless pictures of themselves with grave-robbed spoils? But from an archaeological point of view, it is also horrible. The acts of desecration are clearly destructive, ruining the context and meaning of his 'finds'. This makes them completely pointless objects, collected for collections sake alone and at least a little for the simple gratification of an individual who thinks taking pictures like this is appropriate...

Figure 5: So many things wrong with this picture.
Again, courtesy of Ondrej Jajcaj's Facebook.

(But at least I know now that there is someone in the world more fascinated by teeth than me. Phew.)


  1. If caught he would be in serious trouble, one might go so far as to say...grave peril

  2. Hey Linzi, it's Jennifer, MSc student at uni. I have watched the video Muchy v hrobke. He says that he is in the village of KoŇ°ice, where are buried Hunagarian people. He shows us his desinfectant product and then reads the name and dates of the first graves. He talks about the red suit of the dead guy, which is a typical hungarian suit. Now comes an absurd monolog about how he is gonna desinfect the body, and that we should'nt fear it. There are flies, flies which are close to the old skull and look at his hands! blablabla.. and he addresses to the guy himself by using his name, .. he is really speaking non-sense actually, and I don't get eveything but there is nothing interestinf in what he's talking about, that's for sure.
    In sum: this guy is nuts.