Crew scanning for unmarked graves downtown

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  A team of archaeologists is at work in Downtown Columbus, testing the potential site of the city's original black cemetery.

They're trying to find evidence of human remains and unmarked graves city officials say could date back as far as 1828.

Archaeologists from the Atlanta area have been brought in by the city to examine the small plot of land at the intersection of 6th Avenue and 6th Street.

The team is using ground penetrating radar to pick up images of what's below the surface.

"The idea of a cemetery is that you hope that you're going to get some regular images that show rectangular blocks running east, west- the graves themselves running east, west and the rows of graves running north, south. Once we see a pattern like that, then we'll know what we're getting," explained Jeff Gardner, Vice President of Brockington and Associates, the group conducting the work.

Gardner says the crew will come back once results from the radar testing are analyzed and probe soft areas of disturbed earth that could be graves. He says they may also do backhoe scraping- taking off the surface sod to look for any rectangular stains that would indicate graves.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley tells News Leader 9 if a cemetery is found at the site, the city will work to preserve it and properly label it as such.

The archaeological group expects their study to take several months to complete.

The crew tells WTVM they've already found evidence of old railroad tracks and an old feed lot at the site.

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