Archaeologists in Florida recently confirmed that they discovered the bones of many young children buried under the last place that one might have thought to look: a wine store.
However, there will be no police investigation. The Florida wine shop is in St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. And those bones? And those bones? They’re just about as old as the city is.
In fact, these skeletal remains are believed by archaeologists to have belonged to the very first colonists in all of North America.
Researchers have found 7 people, including 3 children, in the ancient graveyard so far in the past few weeks. One of them was a young white woman from Europe, according to the St. Augustine Register.
Excavations inside the Fiesta Mall (City of St. Augustine)
Researchers are still examining the other remains, but a pottery fragment found nearby suggests that these people died sometime between 1572 and 1586.
“What you’re dealing with is people who made St. Augustine what it is,” Carl Halbirt, St. Augustine city archaeologist, tells FirstCoast News. “You’re in total awe. You want to treat everything with respect, and we are.”
Archaeologists were able to dig underneath the building thanks to the effects of last year’s Hurricane Matthew, the flooding from which convinced the building’s owner that it was time to replace the wooden floor.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the building’s floor was constructed in 1888, and the soil beneath the building has remained untouched since then, thus creating a virtual time capsule.
The building also happens to be built where the ancient Church of Nuestra Señora de la Remedios used to stand.
“The mission churches across Florida buried everybody in the church floor,” Ellsbeth Gordon, an architectural historian, told FirstCoast News. “It was consecrated ground, of course.”
According to Smithsonian, Sir Francis Drake burned the church down in 1586, a hurricane destroyed it again in 1599, and the British once again burned it down in 1702.
That last time may have been for good, but until then the church had been the main meeting point for a colony that had been established 55 years before the Pilgrims ever set foot on Plymouth Rock.