Little progress made in identifying Lewes bones

Process could take months, years
August 26, 2014
There has been little progress made in identifying the bones found in Lewes Aug. 13. BY NICK ROTH

When asked whose bones were found recently in Lewes, and why they were there, archeologist Ed Otter said there is no good answer yet - and it could weeks, months, maybe even years before there are.

At this point there's not really much to update, Otter said Aug. 22. This is the learning stage, he said.

“Basically, we're trying to figure out whatever we can,” he said.

Workers at a construction site in the Hawkseye development near Lewes uncovered what appeared to be three sets of human remains Aug. 13.

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is heading up the investigation and an Aug. 19 press release provided little additional information other than three burials have been identified.

“At this time, the age and cultural affiliation of the burials are still unknown,” reads the release. “Additional steps will be taken to protect the burials from further damage.”

Further information will be released when available and appropriate to do so, said the release.

Otter is an independent archeologist hired by property owner Cliff Diver to work with the state office.

Otter, who went on his first archaeological dig in the late 70s and opened his own business in 1990, said in the original Cape Gazette story that when determining cultural origin, archeologists look at several indicators, including how remains are buried, if coffins are used, if arrowheads are present and the time period of any artifacts found in or near a grave.

“We're trying to find out who lived in the location in the past,” he said during the recent interview.

Otter said he is using old land records and historical documents to reconstruct the land in terms of ownership.

These are human remains, said Otter, and the process involves trying to figure out why they are there, and that takes time. Otter said the bones will remain undisturbed until their origin is discovered.

The release put out by the state warns the public from trespassing on private property in an attempt to view or disturb the site. The Unmarked Human Remains Act provides for the protection of unmarked human burials and human skeletal remains that are encountered during archaeological excavation, construction or other ground-disturbing activities.


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