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Zoo Graves Unearth New Mystery

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Zoo Graves Unearth New Mystery

CREATED May 5, 2014
by Chris Conte

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A plan to expand the ticket counter at Nashville's Zoo at Grassmere has turned up more than expected after archaeologists discovered the graves they were moving didn't belong to the people they originally thought.

In March a team of archaeologists from the firm TRC Environmental Corporation began excavating close to 20 graves buried on the land where the zoo wanted to expand. Originally officials believed the site was used as a slave burial ground but quickly began unearthing clues that led them to change that thinking.

"It’s in a very prominent part of the plantation not in the back part of it, not back by the main road which made me think that’s not where you would find a slave cemetery. So it got us thinking maybe this was an original graveyard for the owners of the property," explains archaeologist Larry McKee.

The grave sites date back to the 1820's and excavation work on the site has uncovered medal handles from wooden coffins as well as ornamental beads possibly used as a garment to dress up an infant.

"The zoo was interested in doing the right thing and moving (these remains) and they got very interested when we found how wonderful the preservation was," McKee adds.

The remains are being analyzed at MTSU and will be moved to a different burial ground on the zoo's property in the coming weeks.

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