Sunday, September 23, 2007

Honoring the Bones
Cracked and yellow with age, sealed in zippered plastic bags and large cardboard boxes, the bones are believed to be the remains of more than 50 19th-century European immigrants, among them victims of the Irish potato famine. There are about 10 intact adult skeletons, most of them men in their 20s and 30s. There are smaller skeletons too, but none complete; children’s bones tend to disintegrate in acidic soil.

Dr. Amorosi is a physical anthropologist. On an overcast August day last year, he and a team of archaeologists dug up the bones from beneath the fractured asphalt of a municipal parking lot in St. George, Staten Island. The bones had been found during excavation for a $109 million courthouse complex.