ATLANTA (AP) — University of Georgia officials say they will rebury the remains of 105 bodies discovered when expanding a building on the campus.
Construction to expand Baldwin Hall was temporarily halted after workers found grave sites in December 2015, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://on-ajc.com/2mpMbhL).
The grave sites were part of Old Athens Cemetery near Baldwin Hall. The area served as the official town cemetery for most of the 19th century.
Archaeologists from Southeastern Archaeological Services Inc. and UGA's Department of Anthropology exhumed the remains.
The remains will be reburied in Oconee Hill Cemetery during a public ceremony on March 20. UGA President Jere Morehead will speak at the ceremony.
"We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that these men, women and children are reinterred with the dignity and respect that they deserve," university spokesman Greg Trevor said in a statement. "This has been our primary concern and commitment from the very first discovery at the Baldwin construction site, and we have never wavered in our resolve."
The university strictly followed guidelines provided by the State Archaeologist's Office throughout the process, the statement said. In keeping with that advice, workers will reinter the remains individually in Oconee Hill Cemetery, which is close to the original burial site, officials said.
DNA analysis was done on some of the remains, officials said.
"While early onsite examination led archaeologists initially to think that the individuals were most likely of European descent, the DNA results revealed that the vast majority of the remains sufficient for analysis were of African-Americans," the university said in the statement.
Dr. Laurie Reitsema, an assistant professor in the university's anthropology department who led a team of researchers at the site, will share her findings with the public in a research presentation later this spring.
Construction of the expanded and renovated Baldwin Hall was delayed while the remains were exhumed, the university said. The project later resumed in March 2016, though exploration and exhumation continued in some sections through the end of January 2017.