Pennies found in eyes of two of Gaillard dead

Pennies found in eyes of two of Gaillard dead

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Archaeologists said Friday they've made an eye opening discovery during the Gaillard Auditorium makeover project.

Coins, believed to be pennies have been found on the eyelids of two of the bodies. The coins are believed to be from the late 1600's to the mid 1700's.

"They're large copper coins, right now too corroded to get any information about them," said senior archaeologist Eric Poplin

Poplin says it was pretty common in Christian burials to place the coins on the eyes.

"Sometimes it's thought too that they weighted the eyelids when people died and so you didn't see their eyes," he explained.

The crews also learned that some of the 37 graves contained the remains of children.

The graves are believed to be as old at the 1720's.

"Right now we have one infant, we know a person that's probably less than two years old, but not an infant," Poplin said. "We have one juvenile that's probably less than six and another that's probably six to twelve."

Archaeologists also discovered that one of the dead was wearing a jacket.

They also found buttons.

We are told forensics testing will be done to determine exactly who these people were.

"They're either of European or African descent," said Poplin.

The city says the grave removal will be done by Saturday.

And they can't rule out finding more surprises elsewhere at the site.

"We didn't think we would find this," said project manager Dustin Clemens. "Our contractor knows very well that if they run across anything that's suspect to do exactly what they did in this case."

We are told it will be up to Charleston City Council to decide where the remains will be reburied.

City officials say the auditorium project is expected to be completed on schedule by the end of 2014.

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