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Close to 2,000 unmarked graves have been uncovered on the University of Mississippi campus, school officials say.
The graves were discovered after a land survey was conducted on the school’s property in efforts to build a new parking garage. However, plans may undoubtedly changed once ground-penetrating radar detected thousands of buried bodies beneath the school’s medical center campus location.
“We’ve always known there were graves on this site, many of them unmarked. It was really a matter of knowing how many and where,” University of Mississippi spokesman Jack Mazurak told Mississippi News Now.
Some of the graves are expected to come from the old Mississippi Lunatic Asylum, which operated on the grounds between 1855 and 1935 reports The Huffington Post.
Other speculations are that some graves may be associated with an African-American church that was once built nearby along with a potter’s field for indigent people.
Among those buried may be former slaves, victims of tuberculosis and Civil War casualties, reports the Clarion-Ledger.
In going forward, reburial is a costly measure that is estimated to run $6 million, an amount school officials says they are not able to afford.
“It matters to us to be able to exhume these people in a very respectful and ethical manner that’s very standardized,” Molly Zuckerman, assistant professor of anthropology at Mississippi State University, said in a UMC release at the time. “The goal is to treat them respectfully and analyze them respectfully.”