Portuguese researchers suspect that a dozen skeletons found in an ancient garbage dump were Jewish victims of the Inquisition more than 400 years ago.

The excavation team found the remains at what was called the Jail Cleaning Yard of the Inquisition Court in Evora, 135 kilometers (84 miles) east of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.

The researchers say the three male and nine female bodies "were discarded into the dump like household garbage," with no funeral structures.

The Portuguese Inquisition was established in 1536. Hundreds were burned at the stake, and living conditions in Inquisition jails often caused the prisoner's death. A proper burial was denied to Jews.

The findings appear in the September edition of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday.