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Why there’s no system to save Philly’s hidden graves under private construction sites

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Workers excavate a coffin from a construction site in the Old City neighborhood, Thursday, March 9, 2017, in Philadelphia. Crews working on an apartment building in Philadelphia's historic district got a shock last month when their backhoes started hitting coffins and unearthing fully intact human remains. The site was supposed to be a former burial ground from 1707, and all remains were supposedly exhumed in the 1800s and moved to a different cemetery. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Workers excavate a coffin from a construction site in the Old City neighborhood, Thursday, March 9, 2017, in Philadelphia. Crews working on an apartment building in Philadelphia's historic district got a shock last month when their backhoes started hitting coffins and unearthing fully intact human remains. The site was supposed to be a former burial ground from 1707, and all remains were supposedly exhumed in the 1800s and moved to a different cemetery. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In 2016, construction workers accidentally unearthed a forgotten 18th century burial ground while making way for a parking lot in Philadelphia’s Old City. Now, archaeologists know at least 491 bodies were buried there. And while this was a surprising and significant discovery, the city says it bears no responsibility for the remains because they were discovered on a private construction site. In a city as old as Philly, why isn’t there a system in place to protect these remains? And could there be more forgotten burial grounds waiting to be unearthed? Anna Dhody, curator of the Mütter Museum, joins us on this episode of The Why.

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