Nov. 4, 2005 Archeologists excavating at Fort Christian on St. Thomas Friday uncovered the remains of one and possibly two people.
"We identified a tooth, which speaks to a small child," Historic Preservation Office director Myron Jackson said.
Archeologist David Brewer said the site also contains several bones.
"There's a definite possibility there may be more than one person buried," he said.
Brewer said the initial discovery was made by the agency's archeological technician, Patton Mulford.
Brewer said he and his team were working on test sites to see what existed when Friday's discovery revealed itself.
Jackson said all burials will be treated with respect and disturbed as little as possible.
Brewer said that his staff had not yet decided whether to simply expose the burials, conduct initial identification studies and then recover them or to conduct a full forensic anthropological study before reburying them.
"First things first," Brewer said. "We're going to have to remove a lot of overburden, expose them and find how many and what condition they're in before we can discuss how best they should be treated both scientifically and spiritually."
Uncovering the remains is expected to take about two weeks.
Meanwhile, only controlled archeological investigations will be allowed in this section of Fort Christian until the remains are uncovered.
Jackson said the remains were discovered on the eastern side of the building about four feet below the fort's floor joists. The archeologists were excavating in the area known as the Old Church to find out what construction techniques had been used and if there were other cultural resources at the site.
The area was the site of Our Lord Savior Lutheran Church. It was dedicated in 1706 and used until 1793.
Brewer said that Europeans often buried people within and under the church. He said that a grave marker sits outside the area where the church sat.
"Was the marker moved out of the church?" he asked.
The specific area is called the Old Multi-Purpose Room or the Courthouse. Most recently, it was used to store the museum's furniture collection.
Jackson said it's too early to say if the burial site is in its original condition or had been disturbed some time over the fort's 325-year life.
"We have to do some more excavation," he said.
He said there were no headstones at this site.
Brewer said that the archeological excavation has also turned up buttons, musket balls, gun flints, china, and pipe stems. He said this was the first time archeologists had an opportunity to do any substantial excavation. He said the late Fred Gjessing had done some work in the 1980s when bathrooms were installed, but was not able to do an extensive survey such as this one done as part of a renovation project.
The fort is in the midst of a renovation by Tip Top Construction Co. of St. Thomas. Work began in May and should take a year to complete.
Jackson said it's possible the fort may be painted its original white color.
"In 1874, it was changed to red when the clock tower was built," he said.
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