The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Making people: Sorting commingled remains from the St. Anthony of Padua Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN 1851- 1857


Department of Anthropology, Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Thursday All day, Park Concourse Add to calendar

Sorting commingled remains serves the purpose of returning identity to the individual. In 2005, the skeletal remains of multiple individuals were found in a construction site in Minneapolis, MN. Research determined the location to be the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Cemetery, in use from 1851 to 1857. A salvage operation at the site resulted in the collection of approximately 2,233 commingled skeletal elements lacking individual identity. The collection, known as H413, suffered extensive damage as well, creating a challenge in identifying and assigning bones to specific individuals. This project details the utility of several approaches for sorting commingled remains, including various forms of osteometric sorting, length and stature estimation of long bones, sex and age determination methods, observations of pathology and staining, and ancestry affiliation. Articulation points were also used to match long bones to torso elements such as the scapula, clavicle and the innominate. The project determined the presence of 18 individuals, including nine adults and nine juveniles. While not complete sets of remains, these individuals’ identity has now been partially restored.

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