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Archaeologists Race to Exhume Historic Remains in Philadelphia

Friday, March 10, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA—The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that archaeologists and anthropologists have come from all over the East Coast to volunteer their time and skills to exhume as many as 300 burials discovered on a residential construction site within Philadelphia’s Old City. The graves had been part of the First Baptist Church burial ground, which was founded in 1707. When the cemetery closed in 1859, the graves were supposed to have been moved. The Philadelphia Historical Commission and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission say they do not have the jurisdiction to intervene in the project, but the developer has given the archaeologists time to salvage the burials. “These are our ancestors,” said Anna Dhody, head of the city’s Mütter Institute and a leader of the excavation. “This is our history. We can learn so much from these bones—about the yellow fever epidemic in 1793, the cholera epidemic of 1849.” The developer has also agreed to pay to have the remains reinterred at Mount Moriah cemetery, where they were supposed to have been transferred in the mid-nineteenth century. For more, go to “Letter from Philadelphia: Empire of Glass.”

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