Oct 29, 2013
10:43 AM

Secrets of New Haven Bones to Be Revealed

Secrets of New Haven Bones to Be Revealed

Peter Casolino

State Archeologist Nick Bellantoni explains items inside the time capsule found on the New Haven Green. Including "grape shot," right, and a bullet, both labeled from Gettysburg.

Although the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy has been commemorated this past week, it has also been 12 months since skeletal remains were discovered on the upper portion of the New Haven green after the Lincoln Oak was uprooted.

The oak had been planted in 1909 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pres. Abraham Lincoln's birth, so the skull, ribs and other bones found tangled in the tree's roots date back over a century and most likely to 1700s, when that part of the green served as cemetery. (In 1821 when Grove Street Cemetery was opened nearby, most of the head stones that had been on the green were moved there, but the accompanying human remains were left in the ground.) Also unearthed at the time were two time capsules that had been buried under the plaque signifiying the Lincoln Oak; the capsules have since been revealed to contain objects related to Lincoln, including newspapers, letters, postcards, medals, pins and even small grapeshot cannonballs that had been used on the battlefield of Gettysburg, 

In conjunction with these discoveries, The New Haven Museum is hosting “Getting to the Root of It,” a panel discussion revealing the research findings of the team charged with investigating the human remains and time capsules discovered on the Green. The event is on Thursday, October 31(yes, Halloween night), at 5:30 p.m. at the museum; admission is free although donations are accepted.

According to a press release from the museum, "The research team examined the biological and archaeological evidence using a multidisciplinary approach that combines the expertise of municipal historians and academic researchers, demonstrating how coordinated efforts yield more meaningful results than any single line of inquiry. The research was supported by the Committee of the Proprietors of the Common and Undivided Lands of New Haven and the Yale University Department of Anthropology."

Members of that team will be on hand in a two-part event, which includes prominent scientists, researchers and historians.

The first part event, from 5:30 to 6:30, will feature discussions of the New Haven green, the Lincoln Oak and discovery of the two time capsules. Panelists for this portion will include Dr. Nicholas F. Bellantoni, Connecticut Archaeology Center, Connecticut State Museum of Natural History; Gerald J. Conlogue, Robert Lombardo and Natalie A. Pellatier, Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Quinnipiac University; and Judith A. Schiff, Yale University Library and New Haven City Historian.

After a break, the second half of the evening, from 6:45-7:45, will center on the discovered remains and associated artifacts as well as disease on the 1700s. Panelists will include Gary P. Aronsen, Frank Hole, Yukiko Tonoike, and Kylie Williamson, Department of Anthropology, Yale University; Dr. Nicholas F. Bellantoni, Connecticut Archaeology Center, Connecticut State Museum of Natural History; John Krigbaum, Department of Anthropology, University of Florida Gainesville; and Lars Fehren-Schmitz, Department of Anthropology, University of California Santa Cruz.


Secrets of New Haven Bones to Be Revealed

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