Bone-Filled Burial Vaults Discovered in New York City

'You never know what you can find beneath the city's streets'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2015 5:13 PM CST
A plywood wall surrounds the opening to an underground construction area in New York's Greenwich Village, where two centuries-old burial vaults were discovered this week.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

(Newser) – Workers were just trying to fix an old water main this week in New York's Greenwich Village and ended up with their hands full of old bones instead, Newsday reports. According to WPIX-TV, workers found the roofs of two burial vaults less than 4 feet below the street. The tombs, which are approximately 18 feet by 15 feet, were likely built in the late 18th century or early 19th century and contained the bones of at least 12 people, NBC New York reports. A pile of skulls was found in a corner in one of the vaults, while the other had a stack of a dozen wooden coffins.

"You never know what you can find beneath the city's streets," one of the project heads tells NBC. "You bury people to memorialize them and these people were forgotten." Newsday reports archaeologists and anthropologists will be checking out the tombs to find out more information. But right now officials believe they're probably part of a Presbyterian church cemetery, according to NBC. Experts will be examining old documents and records in an attempt to figure out who is buried there. Meanwhile, workers are planning a new route for the water main, as it's city policy to leave burial sites be whenever possible. (Elsewhere, Israeli archaeologists just found a "dream come true" under a parking lot.)

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