Achaeologists have found another ancient burial site in the path of the Grand Parkway. This is the second time in recent months such an incident has occurred, prompting calls for a thorough scientific study before proceeding, according to The Houston Chronicle:
Kenneth Brown, an anthropologist at the University of Houston, told a Harris County judge Monday that the human remains could be as old as 9,000 years, making it an invaluable site for research. “It deserves a lot of excavation and study,” Brown said.
He testified on behalf of the Harris County Historical Commission, which is challenging the Texas Department of Transportation’s request to remove the bones and any others that may be found in the way of the $322 million project.
Judge Reece Rondon, of the 234th District, said he would rule on the request this week.
Remains 2 feet deep
TxDOT archaeologists uncovered the second burial site in late August, about two months after the discovery of three leg bones and a jaw with teeth. The first remains were located about 2 feet below the surface in sediment that also holds artifacts more than 2,000 years old.
The second discovery, which included arm and leg bones, was made about 15 feet away from the earlier find, said Scott Pletka, who leads TxDOT’s archaeological studies branch. He said the state agency expects to find more ancient bones in the area.
“Given we have found two burials, the odds have substantially increased of finding more,” he said.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa McClain urged Rondon to grant the request because the uncovered bones are exposed to the elements. The agency, which stopped construction in the area last week, must resume by November to stay on schedule with the project, a 15-mile, four-lane toll road that would be part of an outer beltway around greater Houston.
Clarissa Kay Bauer, a senior assistant Harris County attorney, said the state agency has not shown why the request to remove the ancient bones without more study is in the public interest.
“The goal isn’t to stop the project,” Bauer said, “but to maximize the scientific knowledge of the site.”