Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Esselen Indian Skeleton Found Behind Sardine Factory On Monterey's Cannery Row

Skeleton unearthed on Monterey's Cannery Row
Discovery of ancient remains halts excavation
Herald Staff Writer

As soon as construction crew members working next to the Sardine Factory realized they had unearthed human remains, the back hoe was turned off and a call was placed to the Monterey Police Department.

Turns out the skeleton found under the parking lot near Cannery Row was that of a woman, perhaps thousands of years old and probably a member of the Esselen Indian tribe.

The remains were found Wednesday as a ditch was being dug from the parking lot to the back of the restaurant. A skull and about half of a skeleton came up in the back hoe's scoop.

"We immediately stopped the job," said Frank Donangelo, vice president of planning and development for the Cannery Row Company, which owns the property.

After the Police Department received word of the bones, officers blocked off the area and a coroner and pathologist arrived to assess whether a crime had been committed.

After the bones were determined to be ancient and did not need to be investigated as evidence of a crime, a call was made to representatives of the Esselen Nation, which has local ancestral roots.

Morley said she could not estimate how old the remains are, but Indian remains found on the site in the past have been dated from 2,000 to 6,000 years old.

The skeleton found Wednesday was about four feet underground, which is a clue to the age of the bones, Morley said. Sea shells found during the dig a layer above the skeleton are probably 500 to 1,300 years old, she said.

Morley said the land under the parking lot, which is between Foam and Wave streets, was excavated in 1980 and found to be the site of a "major village" from precolonial times.

"When they tore down the houses" that used to stand where the parking lot is, "they found lots of burials," she said.

Read the rest of the story at the Monterey Herald.

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