Human bones uncovered at Gaillard Center Site

Human bones uncovered at Gaillard Center site
Grave site (photo source: Eric Poplin)
Grave site (photo source: Eric Poplin)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The mayor's office says an archaeologist is examining human remains uncovered at the Gaillard Auditorium on Tuesday.

Eric Poplin, Senior Archeologist of Brockington & Associates said, "we excavated back almost the length of the trench that they planned to excavate and we discovered one other grave, so we've identified two graves within the excavated area that they have."

According to a police report, workers were using a backhoe when they uncovered what appeared to be parts of a human skull, jaw, and teeth from two people.

Director of Media Relations Barbara Vaughn said crews were digging for a sewer line near the corner of George and Anson streets around 10 a.m.

Poplin said he knows that they are graves because of wood stains from the deteriorated coffins.

"They appear to be adults and the two graves are oriented east to west for the length of the grave which is pretty common in Christian cemeteries," said Poplin.

The bones were found about six to eight feet beneath the ground and Poplin estimates they were there since the mid 1800's. The site had previously been covered by a driveway that had been in place for over 50 years, the report states.

The graves were dug where the edge of the city once was and poplin said its uncommon to uncover graves within the city itself.

"There are restrictions on where you could bury people and those laws have existed in the city for quite some time," said Poplin.

Right now construction in that portion of the site is halted. The goal is to look back at historical records to see if the area was once a cemetery and if the remains should be moved.

"If it indicated that it was associated with a church or cemetery, then the city would undertake and develop a plan to determine how many graves are there," said Poplin.

Poplin and his firm have excavated more than a thousand people in the last ten years in various parts of the city of Charleston. The largest was in 2004 during the renovation of Johnson Hagood Stadium at the Citadel. 400 graves were excavated and moved to another part of that site.

City of Charleston Project Manager Dustin Clemens said the archaeologist wants to make sure there "are not more graves at the site." Clemens said they hope to know more about the bones by Friday.

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