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Bones at Colonial Fortress in Canada Offer Clues to Heavy Labor

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA—CBC News reports that archaeologists from the University of New Brunswick are excavating a cemetery at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, which was constructed on Cape Breton Island by the French in the early eighteenth century. More than 1,000 people are thought to have been buried in the cemetery, now endangered by coastal erosion. The remains of more than 120 people have been recovered to date, including the bones of a 12-year-old girl whose upper body was well muscled from heavy labor, according to Sarah MacInnes of Parks Canada and bioarchaeologist Amy Scott of the University of New Brunswick. Others suffered fractures in their hands, feet, and legs. “The average age at death for these individuals that we’ve excavated so far is about 28 years, so incredibly young when we’re thinking about what life was like and how difficult it was,” Scott explained. The remains will eventually be reburied at the fortress well away from the shoreline. To read about the discovery of two ships that disappeared in the mid-nineteenth century in the waters of northern Canada, go to "The Wrecks of Erebus and Terror," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of the Decade.

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