Coffins, skeletal remains discovered under Old City construction site

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Hundreds of buried coffins were discovered under a construction site in the Old City section of Philadelphia. (WPVI)

Hundreds of buried coffins were discovered under a construction site in the Old City section of Philadelphia.

Late Monday afternoon, anthropologists and archaeologists recovered the remaining few bodies of the hundreds found buried in the lot in the 200 block of Arch Street since February 21st.

The lot was once the cemetery for the historic First Baptist Church from 1703 to 1859.

The experts just kept finding gems in the dirt as a real estate developer clears the way for an apartment building.

The mountain of skeletal remains are now being stored in the science building on the Rutgers-Camden University campus for extensive study and research of those old bones and hair.

"We are going to be doing various analyses of hair and teeth. There's just so much. There's months and months ahead of us," Kimberly Moran of Rutgers-Camden said.

The coffins and remains were supposed to be taken to the Mt. Mariah Cemetery in what is now Cobbs Creek, which back in the 19th century was a Philadelphia suburb.

The Mutter Museum is helping supervise the study of what the professionals consider a jackpot.

"It's going to open up a lot of knowledge about, not only this congregation, but how it reflects into the early history of Philadelphia," Anna Dhody of the Mutter Museum said.

The recovery team was racing the forecast, making sure they recovered all the remains and coffins before snow hit the region.

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