Human bones found under Parliament building date back to 430 AD

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jul 1, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament says the human bones unearthed under the “Red House” building during initial excavation work undertaken as part of the restoration of the building date back to between 430 AD and 1390 AD.

In a statement, the Parliament said that hat a full-time archaeological team has been assigned to the dig site for six months to look for further material.

It said that the Cabinet had also established a Red House Cultural Heritage Team, chaired by Speaker Wade Mark, to manage all aspects of the historical find and to ensure conformity with best practices and international standards.

The human remains were first unearthed on March 26, and since then the Parliament said a number of skeletal remains, cultural and historical artifacts were found and that an archaeological excavation team, headed by the late archaeologist Peter Harris, along with other qualified officials from the University of the West Indies, was established to oversee the removal of all human skeletal remains and artifacts discovered at the test pits.

In the statement, the Parliament paid special tribute to Harris, who died on May 18, saying, “his expertise and knowledge provided the requisite leadership needed during the early stages of the excavation process”.

Parliament said the samples of the excavated remains were sent abroad for DNA testing and radiocarbon dating to determine the ethnicity, gender and likely age of the bones. Tests were done at Binghamton University, New York and Beta Analytic Inc. Lab, Miami.

“As the discovery of these human remains and other artifacts could signal the existence of other historical and cultural material at the Red House, an archaeological research and rescue excavation team has been assigned for a six-month period on a full-time basis, from Monday 1st July.

“During this period, the Red House Restoration Project will focus on the completion of essential surveys and designs ahead of construction works scheduled to commence in February 2014.”

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