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Human Remains Discovered Near Milam Park During Archeological Dig

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Texas Public Radio
Shawn Marceaux stands in front of the Santa Rosa dig site.

Workers unearthed two bone fragments during an archeological and cultural investigation on Santa Rosa Street next to Milam Park. The investigation is an early phase of a redevelopment project intended to improve streets and sidewalks in the area. 

Shawn Marceaux, a city archaeologist with San Antonio's Office of Historic Preservation, said the discovery was not surprising.  

“We know from the archival records — historical records — that there are three historic-age cemeteries in this area,” he said. “So, there was some expectation of finds.”

According to Marceaux, the Santa Rosa Street site overlaps with a former city-owned cemetery first used in the early-to-mid 19th century. The crew also discovered metal fragments believed to have been part of a coffin.

Credit Dominic Anthony Walsh / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Work continues, and archaeologists will continue investigating the site in coming weeks.

He said similar discoveries have been made around downtown San Antonio, including at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, located on the opposite side of Milam Park. 

“San Antonio has a long and rich Spanish colonial history,” he said. “So, it's not uncommon.”

As required by the Texas Antiquities Permit and Human Burial Remains Protocol, project managers notified local and state officials, as well as “local descendant groups” after the discovery.

Sean Reich is a senior engineer for the Santa Rosa public improvements project. He said this phase of the project is intended to unearth historical artifacts, including human remains. 

“The purpose of this archaeological investigation is to clear the area of any potential archaeological artifacts, so that the construction project can proceed in the future when that's ready to go,” he said.

According to Reich, the overall project remains on schedule, and construction isn’t expected to begin until the summer of 2021. 

The bone fragments are at UTSA’s Center For Archeological Research, and Marceaux said they will be reinterred at the discovery site. Archeologists will continue to investigate the area. 

Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony.

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Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony