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ARCHAEOLOGY NEWS - WIRE
=START= XMT: 15:48 Tue Oct 08 EXP: 16:00 Tue Oct 15
FIRST EXCAVATION OF COLONIAL BURIAL GROUND FOR BLACKS FOUND IN LOWER MANHATTAN
NEW YORK (OCT. 8) UPI - The graves of 11 people believed to be black Americans
buried before 1790 have been excavated on the construction site of the new
34-story Federal Office Building in lower Manhattan, it was reported Tuesday.
William Diamond, regional administrator of the U.S. General Services
Administration, said the recovered skeletal remains have been removed to a
forensic science unit at Lehman College for further study and would later be
reburied at a suitable site "in a way that honors these individuals."
Diamond said the $276 million Federal Office building site at 290 Broadway is
on the northern boundary of a graveyard which ran south to City Hall prior to
its closure in 1790.
The graveyard, used for paupers, Revolutionary War prisoners, victims of
contagion and black people, is being excavated by Historic Conservation and
Diamond indicated there was no way of identifying the remains. There were many
free black people in the city in the 18th century but slavery also was
practiced in the state. The first U.S. census in 1790 and early records refer
to a "Negro burial ground" at the Federal Office Building site.
"While this find is historically significant and archeologically important, it
is absolutely essential that the remains that were found on the site be treated
with the utmost respect and dignity," Diamond said.
"We believe this is the only Colonial period African-American cemetery to be
excavated in the United States to date."
Diamond commended the contractor for the building, Linpro New York Realty, for
its cooperation in making the site accessible to archaeologists and said the
completion date for the federal building would be pushed back if excavation of
the site required more time.
Construction of the Federal Office Building in conjucion with construction of a
new Federal Courthouse on Foley Square is the largest civilian development
project ever undertaken by the General Services Administration.