A small dark brown wrinkled lump is actually a preserved brain.

The human body contains many types of soft tissue: skin, organs, muscles, etc.  These tissues are made of cells and when a person dies their cells die, too.  Cells undergo a process known as autolysis where enzymes within the cell are released and the cells break down.  In addition, bacteria, fungi, insects, and scavengers also act upon the body to help break it down and recycle it back into the ecosystem.  Even bone contains cells that decompose along with the rest of the body leaving... Read More

Posted August 11, 2017 by Kimberlee Moran
A rusty coffin handle showing two hearts lying on their sides and facing each other.

On June 29th, the same day that the Arch St Team was moving coffins from storage containers to their new facility in NJ, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that "new" bones were being uncovered at 218 Arch St.  The team was shocked and dismayed because is appears that bones had been appearing for some time and... Read More

Posted July 20, 2017 by Kimberlee Moran
Image of an X-ray on a computer screen

This week the Arch St Project has had a special visitor: Dr. Jerry Conlogue and his students from Quinnipiac University.  Jerry is a professor of diagnostic imaging.  When he's not working on live patients, Jerry works on mummies and other archaeological assemblages, providing researchers with a non-destructive method to view remains.  For the Arch St Project, Jerry is X-raying our coffins prior to our internal... Read More

Posted July 12, 2017 by Kimberlee Moran
femurs and other bones in a plastic bag

Several weeks ago, work began to determine a preliminary count of how many individuals were recovered from the Arch Street site in the early stages of discovery. The remains of these individuals are stored in more than 50 boxes, which are housed at Rutgers University, Camden. A portion of the boxes are thought to contain single individuals, corresponding to single burials. Many boxes, however, contain bones that obviously originated from more than one person, such as two skulls, two sacrum,... Read More

Posted July 6, 2017 by Allison Grunwald
coffin ready to be put into the moving van

Since March 2017, the human remains from the Arch St Project have languished in storage containers in Philadelphia.  Finding a facility in which to process and analyze the material with our limited budget has proved challenging.  As the months wore on, the team began to worry about the state of the remains.  Without a climate... Read More

Posted July 3, 2017 by Kimberlee Moran