1994 Discovery of human bones at VCU triggers DNA search in 2022


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The terrifying fate of those who perished only for their final resting place to be an unmarked grave is sadly the circumstance for many of our ancestors, some who have not even been discovered yet.

A Handful of Lost Souls paused nearly 30 years ago when human remains were discovered under a healthcare building at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1994. The search continues today to find enough DNA on these more than 50 bodies found that can hopefully be related. to living descendants.

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the Richmond Times-Dispatch gave an insightful report on the decades-spanning initiative that allegedly involves the remnants of slaves hundreds of years ago. VCU researchers hope not only to give these bodies the burial they rightly deserve, but also to determine some of their physical characteristics in life, such as hair color, eye color and even where they were buried. birth.

More on how it all originally ended below, via Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“In 1994, the construction workers who laid the foundation for the Kontos Medical Sciences Building made a discovery. Twenty-five feet underground, near the end of East Marshall Street, they found a well filled with human remains, leather shoes, glass bottles and mud.

VCU called its chief archaeologist, L. Daniel Mouer, who could smell the decay. He found bones and what appeared to be hair and skin.

But VCU refused to delay construction and gave Mouer only a weekend to excavate the remains. When the deadline arrived, a backhoe rammed the ground, ripping out bones and dirt, and Mouer watched in disbelief. What could not be recovered quickly was abandoned.

What was recovered included more than 400 bones belonging to at least 44 adults and nine children. Two ribs belonged to an infant and two to a newborn. Many skeletons were incomplete.

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After studying the skulls, it was determined that the majority were of African descent. In even more heartbreaking speculation, researchers believe the bodies received such negligent treatment because they were stripped from their original graves and used as medical corpses by students in the 1800s at Hampden-Sydney College. After use, medical students reportedly threw the bodies down a well where the remains were eventually found. The skeletons revealed that many of the marks and cuts were from amateurs, showing absolutely no respect for the dark souls these bodies once housed.

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