Human remains uncovered at historic Mission San Juan

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by Gary Cooper / KENS 5

Gary Cooper / KENS 5

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 19 at 6:41 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- Archaeologists have made a historic find at one of San Antonio's oldest missions.

More than a dozen human remains have been uncovered at Mission San Juan.

The bones, which were discovered near the front of the mission entrance, are believed to be those of Native Americans who died as far back as the 1780s.

Mission San Juan as a national historic site where some still pray for the living and for others.

"And we all want to treat them with the respect and the dignity that any human remains are always treated," said Father David Garcia, of the Archdiocese of San Antoniowww.archsa.org/.

Garcia says during the summer crews doing foundation work at Mission San Juan's church made the discovery.

"When we find human remains on a historical site like the missions, we have to bring in the archaeologists," said Garcia. "So in this case, a UTSA archaeologist to do the official excavations."

They dug up some interesting numbers.

"I think somewhere around 13 to 15 sets of remains," Garcia explained. "Now when I say sets of remains, I mean this: It could be just one bone, and that's a set of remains, or it could be more of a skeleton and not the full skeleton."

The bones are hundreds of years old and could belong to Native Americans who lived at the mission.  It isn't the first time bones have been found at missions in San Antonio.

"The difference at San Juan is that we had to do foundation work at San Juan because it was in very, very bad condition, and the actual structure of the church was in danger of collapsing," said Garcia.

The church is safe now - and so are the remains.

The church says they have been working with Native American tribes and plan to have a proper burial for the remains. That could happen before the year is over.





 

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