Bones found in New Orleans’ French Quarter

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Construction crews made an historic find in New Orleans’ French Quarter when they were building a pool at a condo building and came across several graves. Archaeologists believe the bodies belong to some of the area’s first settlers. 

Construction crews found the grave site when digging a new pool. The straight sides of this hole are the sides of wooden coffins [Credit: WWL/CNN]

Everyone once in a while, construction crews will dig up humans bones in the French Quarter – like in a tucked-away courtyard. 

“That’s a piece of one, then you see the side of the wood, see the one in the corner that’s the side of one. That’s still there,” construction foreman Glenn Angelo said. 

The first graveyard for the city was located in the area, from Toulouse to Saint Peter. Angelo said the old, unearthed coffins aren’t the coffins of today – just simply made. 

“They look like a side of a Cyprus tree. Real rough. Really crude, basic, very narrow,”  he said. 

“Basically, the closer you get to the river the more likely you’re going to find old things and the older the things are likely to be,” archaeologist Jill Yakubik said. 

Yakubik with Earth Search headed up a team of archaeologists and anthropologists that helped excavate the site for four weeks this past summer. 

“In the surrounding area around New Orleans, it’s not unusual to find graveyards,” she said. 

Yakubik confirmed that a total of 15 coffins were removed from the north rampart site. She said it’s where the colony’s first cemetery was located, pre-dating the City of New Orleans. 

“There also have been instances where there have been established cemeteries that have been forgotten, either family cemeteries or cemeteries that went into disuse over time,” she said. 

Once Yakubik and her team confirmed the remains at the construction site were human, a state law required the property owner to apply to have them removed. 

“No burials can be excavated without a permit,” Yakubik said. 

Some of the remains are being stored and analyzes at Louisiana State University, and other items are being washed, processed and analyzed inside a lab where Yakubik and her team hope to uncover some of the city’s lost secrets. 

“It’s pretty neat uncovering something from the 1700s.” 

Source: KFVS [November 11, 2011]

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