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Construction workers unearth dozens of colonial era coffins in Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA – At first, they found just a few bones.Then they dug up an entire coffin. And then another.A construction crew working on a new building in Philadelphia on Thursday uncovered dozens of coffins buried 6 feet below a parking lot.The site of a new apartment complex has been temporarily transformed into a quest to unearth the city’s past. Archaeologists are sorting through the remains, hoping to glean a better idea of what life was like in colonial Philadelphia.Historians say the coffins were part of the First Baptist Church burial ground established in 1707 in the historic part of the city on what is now Arch Street. Records show that they should have been moved across town to the Mount Moriah Cemetery about 1860, but the job was never completed.“It costs money to move the graves and sometimes it doesn’t happen,” Lee Arnold of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania told CNN. “Businesses decide to cut corners. The problem is that when you’re talking about the remains of loved ones, cutting corners is tragic.”So far, researchers have found 38 coffins on the site, which is 40 feet by 25 feet wide. They said they have no idea how many are trapped beneath the dirt.‘Everyone was a bit surprised’Executive Vice President Jonathan Stavin of the PMC Property Group, the owner and contractor of the location, said that the company believes the number of remains found will grow.“Everyone was a bit surprised. We were not expecting to find as much as we found. There are layers to this,” he said.The company plans to build a 10-story, 116-unit apartment building on site. Stavin said officials are financially committed to helping with the eventual reinterment of the bodies at Mount Moriah.“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.Facing harsh, snowy weather, researchers are racing to find and remove the remains as efficiently as possible, and are hoping to finish excavation by Saturday.However, Anna Dhody, the director and curator of the Mutter Institute and Museum, said the deadline may be extended.“It’s not OK to leave any (remains) behind,” she said. “We’re not stopping until we’re done.”Archaeologists are delving down into a layer of hard bedrock or clay that Dhody said has no telltale signs of disturbance.“We’re fairly confident there’s nothing under that depositional layer,” she said.To get the job done, experts in the field are employing the construction workers to do the bulk of the heavy dirt lifting. Trained researchers are then doing the more detailed excavation work.“This is a positive thing for any possible future projects because we’re training them to look for future archeological sites,” said Dhody. “Philadelphia is a historical city. It’s not the first time something like this has happened and it won’t be the last. Construction workers are our first line of eyes. Getting them involved and interested is key to preserving our history.”Beyond the four-layer deep cache of stacked coffins buried on PMC Property Group’s plot, Dhody told CNN that there may be other remains in the area.“There’s parts of the cemetery that we can’t access because of another building,” she said. “There might be people buried there that we’ll not be able to access.”


Construction workers unearth dozens colonial coffins Philadelphia Archaeologists disturbance bedrock Dhody telltale Museum surprised found development manufacture plan planning structure system architecture arrangement assembly build cast composition conception constitution contour cut disposition edifice elevation erecting erection fabric fabrication figuration figure form format formation foundation improvisation invention makeup making mold origination outline prefab prefabrication raising rearing shape systematization turn type putting up roadwork disarrangement truth destruction disfigurement disorganization ruin ruins construction framework make-up style adjustment attachment building collection connecting fitting together joining manufacturing modeling molding piecing together setting up shaping welding domicile home house hut pile superstructure ziggurat adherence bond cementation cling clinging comprehensibility concordance conformity congruity connection consistency consonance continuity correspondence inseparability inseparableness integrity intelligibility rationality relations solidarity stickage tenacity union unity character content contents design essence frame habit habitus nature physique temper temperament vitality definition exegesis interpretation apprehension explication rendering version exposition rendition inference translation reading exposé construal vagueness buildings coherence unintelligibility disagreement difference nonsense incongruity incoherence divorce nonconformity discord TSIF constructions employee laborer peasant trader artisan breadwinner hand help operative proletarian serf slave stiff toiler blue collar company person craftsperson nine-to-fiver tradesperson wage earner white collar working person working stiff check hindrance obstruction unemployed aggregation assemblage band bevy bunch cluster collection company complement congregation corps covey crowd faction gang herd horde lot mob organization pack party posse retinue sailors sect set squad swarm team troop troupe workers working party academics advisers body clinic college department employees institute literati mentors personnel professorate profs researchers scholars society staff university circle clan clique club combo coterie crew knot outfit ring shift syndicate tribe zoo labor force labor pool work force cadre faculty group helpers human resources members men and women office people shop troops one whole individual faculties students need ineptness lack incompetence inability manpower ascertain bring to light determine discover dredge up excavate exhibit exhume expose find find out reveal uncover delve disinter ferret hear learn root see show spark spotlight strike uproot catch on hit upon see the light stumble on turn up unbury conceal cover hide lose miss pass by suppress ignore overlook bury bump into chance upon happen upon light upon meet notice stumble upon unearth burrow dig dredge examine explore ferret out go into gouge out inquire investigate jump into leave no stone unturned look into probe prospect ransack really get into research rummage scoop out search seek shovel sift spade trowel turn inside out came across come across comes across coming across neglect fill delving Unearth TSIF twelve dozens TSIF Dozen Dozens crude dependent dominion emigrant frontier immigrant pilgrim pioneer primitive provincial puritan territorial wild early American new outland prerevolutionary uncultured unsettled unsophisticated gentle modern sophisticated colonial homesteader absolutist authoritarian despotic dictatorial hawkish Gothic Victorian affected ancient antiquated antique archaic artful baroque captivating charming curious cute enchanting fanciful ingenious old-world picturesque pleasing whimsical colonist imperialist quaint gothic regular conventional common ordinary ugly up-to-date current usual Colonial TSIF age cycle day generation stage term time aeon date eon epoch blue moon century duration era interim interval life lifetime millennium span course hour juncture moment period quarter reign spell while year being career continuance endurance expectancy extent history length life span longevity orbit pilgrimage record season survival continuation ages end death lives Era TSIF ERA crate sarcophagus casket catafalque pall funerary box pine box pine drape coffin grave hearse pyre support burial burial chamber burial place catacomb cemetery charnel house crypt monument sepulcher vault box mausoleum pit trough bag baggage bin case chest coffer foot locker locker luggage portmanteau suitcase wardrobe bier tomb trunk extremities ladylove lead life floodlit filed for filed off led life flatly filled for wildlife flotilla field view folded over lead a life filter off filters off led a life feel dearth of feel a dearth of fall all over fell all over filled in for lead (a life) philadelphia TSIF Philadelphia paleontologist classicist excavator archaeologian paleologist prehistorian brawl confusion disorder disruption eruption explosion fracas interruption riot shock storm tremor turmoil upheaval uprising violence agitation annoyance bother brouhaha clamor convulsion derangement disarrangement distraction ferment fisticuffs flap fray fuss hindrance hubbub hullabaloo insurrection intrusion molestation perturbation quake quarrel racket rampage restlessness ruckus rumble spasm stink stir to-do tumult uproar big scene big stink calm harmony method order organization peace system agreement aid calmness contentedness happiness help pleasure quiet tranquility altercation assault attack battle clash disturbance donnybrook encounter melee scuffle skirmish churning commotion discomposure rocking stirring tizzy turbulence unrest aggravation bothering bugging exasperation harassment hassle headache inconvenience irritation nuisance pestering problem vexation botheration affliction alarm anguish anxiety apprehension burden chagrin charge consternation dismay disquiet distress encumbrance fear foreboding fretfulness handicap hardship impediment incubus load misgiving onus oppression perplexity pressure responsibility solicitude sorrow stew strain stress sweat tribulation trouble uneasiness unhappiness woe worry affray retreat surrender truce care oversight neglect confidence assurance peacefulness ease comfort blessing benefit omission thoughtlessness negligence inattention ignorance disregard carelessness composure assistance encouragement delight joyfulness joy contentment relief advantage health cares base bottom ground substratum top basement basis bed bedrock foot footing groundwork infrastructure pedestal rest root seat seating stand substructure support underpinning antecedent assumption authority axiom backbone background backing cause center chief ingredient core crux data dictum essence essential evidence explanation fundamental hard fact heart justification keynote keystone law nexus nucleus postulate premise presumption presupposition principal element principle proof reason rudiment sanction security source theorem theory warrant understructure belly deepest part depths floor lowest part nadir nether portion pediment sole terra firma underbelly underneath underside establishment foothold installation resting place settlement ABCs basics bottom line brass tacks guts nitty-gritty nub nuts and bolts prop stay branch annex end effect exteriority fact result surface periphery outside exterior trivia auxiliary reality ceiling foundation fear cowardice BedRock TSIF Bedrock bedrocK BEDrock dowdy howdy hod dodo daddy dandy ddt did dhoti dot hid hoed hood hot dido do t dotty hardy heady horde toady today toddy adhd dad dud had do duty do die giveaway prognostic disclosing evidential indicatory informative meaningful pointing to significant significatory suggestive admonition advisement advocacy aid bum steer caution charge consultation counsel directions dissuasion encouragement exhortation forewarning guidance help information injunction input instruction judgment lesson news opinion persuasion prescription proposal proposition recommendation steer suggestion teaching telltale tidings tip tip-off view warning word word to the wise cue dead giveaway hot lead indication inkling intimation key lead mark notion pointer print proof sign solution suspicion trace track wind catchword clue hint idea in the wind innuendo job mnemonic nod prod prompt prompting reminder betrayal communication leak exposure of secret leak telltale sign unintentional disclosure unwitting disclosure advice misinformation deception deceit opposition discouragement question misrepresentation lie falsehood obstruction injury hindrance blockage ignorance clues cues tell tale TSIF Telltale building foundation gallery hall institution library salon depository exhibition menagerie repository storehouse treasury vault exhibits archive athenaeum museum office registry storage archive arsenal bank bunker cache collection depot magazine repertory safe safe-deposit box store tomb warehouse exhibit exhibition room showroom studio wing battleground benchmark bend blaze feature fragment guide hill mark marker memorial milepost milestone monument mountain promontory remnant ruins souvenir specimen stone survival trace tree vantage point vestige waypost Fort Knox bursar bursary chest coffer damper exchange exchequer hoard register strongbox treasure house archives landmark whole landmarks debt TSIF Museum astonished bewildered dazed frightened shocked startled stunned alarmed astounded confounded stupefied aware calm poised unsurprised confused surprised thrown off thrown off guard addled agape aghast agog appalled awe-struck awed baffled befuddled bowled over dazzled disconcerted dizzy dumbfounded dumbstruck flabbergasted flipped out floored flustered giddy in a dither lost misled muddled mystified perplexed punchy puzzled rattled reeling shook up speechless staggered stumped taken aback thrown thunderstruck uncertain unglued amazed bamboozled beat blown away breathless buffaloed dismayed dumb nonplused overcome overwhelmed stuck afraid scared spooked terrified frozen numb aback oriented clear understanding expectant Surprised TSIF begin construct create erect establish form initiate launch organize plant raise settle start commence constitute endow fashion fix inaugurate institute originate get going ring in settle up start the ball rolling start up break complete conclude confuse demolish destroy die disestablish disorder disorganize end finish ignore neglect raze ruin stop unsettle upset cease depend derive found ground hinge locate predicate prop rest set up station stay base embed implant insert activate actualize break ground break the ice bring about bring to pass cause drive effect embark on enter on enter upon eventuate generate give birth to give impulse go ahead go into impel induce instigate introduce lay foundation for lead make make active motivate mount occasion open plunge into prepare produce set about set in motion trigger undertake support build bottom sustain root rear decrease move leave basing bed bedded began discourage check halt close lose fail consummate repress dissuade prevent TSIF Found
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