Caroline Sturdy Colls

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Caroline Sturdy Colls
Born1985 (age 32–33)
EducationStaffordshire University
Known forForensic investigation of Treblinka extermination camp

Caroline Sturdy Colls (born 1985) is a Professor Conflict Archaeology and Genocide Investigation at Staffordshire University specializing in Holocaust studies, identification of human remains, forensic archaeology and crime scene investigation. She serves as Director for the Centre of Archaeology there, but also undertakes consultancy for the UK Police forces. Her main area of interest is the methodology of investigation into the Holocaust and genocide murder sites with special consideration given to ethical and religious norms associated with the prohibition of excavating a grave.[1][2][3][4]

Sturdy Colls graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2007 with a BA(Hons) in Archaeology and Ancient History, and with the MPhil in Archaeological Practice in 2008. In 2012 she completed her PhD thesis in Archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham, titled "Holocaust Archaeology: Archaeological Approaches to Landscapes of Nazi Genocide and Persecution".[1] She is the author of numerous scientific publications, lectures and selected books on the subject,[5][6] not to mention TV interviews and documentaries.[7]

Archaeological studies[edit]

Sturdy Colls led a team of archeologists in the most recent excavations on the grounds of the Treblinka extermination camp Museum, resulting in the discovery of several floor tiles believed to have been used in the lining of the gas chambers. The tiles were made by Dziewulski & Lange ceramic factory in Opoczno. Her discovery became a subject of the Smithsonian film made for television.[8] Approval for a limited archaeological study was issued for the first time in 2010 to a British team from Staffordshire using non-invasive technology and Lidar remote sensing notably, because neither the authorities nor the Jewish religious leaders in Poland allowed excavations at the camp out of respect for the dead. Sturdy Colls analyzed soil resistance at the site with ground-penetrating radar.[9] Features that appeared to be structural were found, two of which were thought to be the remains of the gas chambers, and therefore the study was allowed to continue.[10]

The archaeological team discovered three new mass graves.[11] At the site of the previously unknown foundations several yellow tiles were unearthed, pressed with a symbol DL resembling a “Star of David”. The logo was soon identified as the pierced mullet star belonging to the Polish ceramics factory from Opoczno founded by Jan Dziewulski and brothers Józef and Władysław Lange.[12][13] It was therefore not the Star of David as reported by the Israeli Ynet News service which made the announcement.[11][improper synthesis?] The tiles located by the ground-penetrating radar were claimed to provide the first physical evidence of the existence of the gas chambers in Camp Two.[8][11][14][15]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Sturdy Colls, C. (contrib.) Forensic Architecture (2014), Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth. Berlin: Sternberg Press. ISBN 978-3-95679-011-9.
  • Sturdy Colls, C., with Hunter, J. and Simpson B. (2013), Forensic Approaches to Buried Remains. Wiley, London. ISBN 978-0-470-66629-6.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (in print) Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions. New York: Springer.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (in print) Finding Treblinka. Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps, 2014 in English and Polish.
  • Morewitz, S. and Sturdy Colls, C. (2016). Handbook of Missing Persons. New York: Springer.
Book Chapters
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2016). ‘Earth conceal not my blood’: forensic and archaeological approaches to locating the remains of Holocaust victims’ In: Dreyfus, J-M. and Anstett, E. Human remains in society: Curation and exhibition in the aftermath of genocide and mass-violence. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2015). "Badania archeologiczne w obozie zagłady i karnym obozie pracy w Treblince." In: Edward Kopówka (ed.), Treblinka: historia i pamięć. Siedlce: Muzeum Regionalne w Siedlcach. ISBN 978-83-88761-51-5.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Colls, K. (2014), "Reconstructing a painful past: A non-invasive approach to reconstructing Lager Norderney in Alderney, the Channel Islands." In: Ch’ng, E. (ed.), Visual Heritage in the Digital Age. New York: Springer.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. with Hunter, J. (2013), "Archeology." In Siegel, J. and Saukko, P. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Forensic Sciences. 2nd edition. Vol. 1, pp. 18–32. Waltham: Academic Press.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2013), "Ocena archeologiczna terenu byłego Obozu Zagłady w Treblince / Archaeological Survey of the Former Extermination Camp at Treblinka." In: Edward Kopówka (ed.), Co wiemy o Treblince? Stan Badań. Warsaw , Siedlce. ISBN 8388761382. (in Polish) (in English).
  • Carr, G. and Sturdy Colls, C. (2016). "Taboo and sensitive heritage: labour camps, burials and the role of activism in the Channel Islands." International Journal of Heritage Studies 22(9), DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2016.1191524.
  • Sturdy Colls, (2015). "Uncovering a Painful Past: Archaeology and the Holocaust." Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 17 (1) 38-55
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2014), "Gone but not forgotten: Archaeological approaches to the landscape of the former extermination camp at Treblinka, Poland," Holocaust Studies and Materials.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Colls, K. (2013), "The Alderney Archaeological Research Project 2010-2012." Alderney Society Bulletin.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2013), "The Archaeology of the Holocaust." British Archaeology Nr 130, p. 50-53.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2012), "Holocaust Archaeology: Archaeological Approaches to Landscapes of Nazi Genocide and Persecution." Journal of Conflict Archaeology Nr 7(2), 71-105.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2012), "O tym, co minęło, lecz nie zostało zapomniane: Badania archeologiczne na terenie byłego obozu zagłady w Treblince." Zagłada Żydów. Studia i Materiały. Nr 8, 77-112. (in Polish)


  1. ^ a b Staff Profiles (2014). "Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls". Staffordshire University. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  2. ^ Channel 5 (27 November 2013), Treblinka: Inside Hitler's Secret Death Camp Episodes. Channel 5 Broadcasting.
  3. ^ Andy Tootell (23 January 2012), Treblinka: searching for the Holocaust's hidden graves. Ideas Lab Predictor Podcast, the University of Birmingham.
  4. ^ Goldsmiths' Centre for Research (28 February 2014), Gone but not forgotten: Archaeological approaches to the site of the former Treblinka Extermination Camp. Archived April 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Centre for Research Architecture (with biographical note).
  5. ^ Caroline Sturdy Colls, Holocaust Archaeology: Archaeological Approaches to Landscapes of Nazi Genocide and Persecution. (PDF, direct download) Journal of Conflict Archaeology, Vol. 7 No. 2, May, 2012, 70–104.
  6. ^ Centre of Archeology (27 January 2014), 'Finding Treblinka: Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps' by Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls. Public Lecture Series. Staffordshire University, Book launch.
  7. ^ Alan Boyle (29 March 2014), Archaeologists Delicately Dig Up Nazi Death Camp Secrets at Treblinka. NBC News
  8. ^ a b Smithsonian Channel (24 February 2014). "Treblinka: Hitler's Killing Machine". The watershed discovery of Star of David tiles confirms the existence of Treblinka's gas chambers and becomes the key to reconstructing the death camp's sinister workings. Smithsonian Institution. 4:52 min. trailer on YouTube. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  9. ^ Ronen, Gil (30 March 2014). "Archaeologists Find Treblinka Gas Chambers". Israel National Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  10. ^ Sturdy Colls, Caroline (22 January 2012). "Treblinka: Revealing the hidden graves of the Holocaust". BBC News Magazine. Archived from the original (Internet Archive) on October 11, 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  11. ^ a b c Ynetnews (3 March 2014). "Tiles found in Treblinka confirm existence of gas chambers". Israel Jewish Scene, Internet Archive. Ynet News. Archived from the original on April 1, 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  12. ^ Waldemar Oszczęda (2008). "Jak to z opoczyńskimi "skarbami" było" [How it was, with the Opoczno treasures]. B. & Wł. Baranowski, J. Koloński – "Katalog zabytków budownictwa przemysłowego w Polsce", PAN, 1970. Archived from the original on April 3, 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  13. ^ Dr Paweł Budziński (22 December 2009). "Towarzystwo Akcyjne Dziewulski i Lange". "Z rozwoju przemysłu ceramicznego. Dwie fabryki Tow. Akc. Dziewulski i Lange." Świat, nr 1/1908. Tygodnik Opoczyński TOP nr 51 (650) weekly. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  14. ^ Boyle, Alan (29 March 2014). "Archaeologists Delicately Dig Up Nazi Death Camp Secrets at Treblinka". NBC. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  15. ^ Pappas, Stephanie (31 March 2014). "First Excavation Of Nazi Death Camp Treblinka Reveals New Horrors". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 January 2015.