AUSTIN, Texas – Three sets of human remains were discovered at the Alamo by an archaeological exploration connected to a major renovation of the revered Texas shrine, state officials said Friday.
“The remains encountered appear to be indicative of a teenage or young adult, infant, and large adult,” a news release from the General Land Office said.
After the discovery, excavation of the site was halted, the release said.
Workers discovered the remains while work was being done in the Monks Burial Room and nave of the Alamo Church in San Antonio, the Land Office said. The nave is the central part of a church.
The remains of the infant and the adult were discovered during the week of Thanksgiving and archaeologists determined that they had been purposely buried there, said Karina Erickson, a Land Office spokeswoman.
The remains of the teen or young adult were discovered Dec. 3 in the Monks Burial Room, but it was not immediately clear whether the remains were formally buried, Erickson said.
None of the remains have been removed, Erickson said.
The Alamo (Photo: John C. Moritz/USA Today Network)
The findings come as an organization called the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association is asking a state to order an “in-depth and comprehensive archaeological investigation” of the grounds surrounding the historic mission in San Antonio and DNA testing on any human remains that are discovered.
The Land Office assumed oversight of the revered site of the March 6, 1836, battle in the War for Texas with Mexico. The agency, along with an organization called Alamo Trust Inc., are overseeing the planned $450 million Alamo restoration project and said “all applicable laws and procedures” will be followed during the handling of the remains.
In October, the Land Office said that during the summer, human bone fragments were found by excavators inside the Alamo. At the time, the state agency said efforts were being made to determine if additional human remains were on the shrine’s property.
In its news release Friday, the Land office noted that in 1995, human remains were were found in the main portion of the church, along the south transept and inside the Monks Burial room in 1989.
Going back further, a plaque was placed inside the Alamo church in 1937 citing the “reinternment of remains” at the Alamo.
The renovation effort has been criticized by the descendants group and other Alamo aficionados, who have expressed concerns the battle site in the heart of downtown San Antonio and the legend associated with it might be influenced by present-day political correctness.
Land Commissioner George P. Bush has rejected such assertions and on Thursday bristled at reports suggesting he plans to erect a monument to General Santa Anna, who commanded the Mexican army during the siege and brief battle that ended with the death of all defenders.
Bush called the suggestion an “outright lie” and accused those spreading it of being “racist” because his mother is a Mexican-born naturalized U.S. citizen.
In its statement, the Land Office said the archaeology activity at the site is to install moisture monitoring equipment and to locate the foundations of the 300-year-old structures on Alamo grounds.
“Monitoring equipment will allow experts to understand what elements are impacting the sole remaining structures from the Battle of the Alamo and to develop a restoration plan that ensures these buildings remain standing for future generations of Texans to learn from and enjoy,” the statement said.
John C. Moritz reports from the USA TODAY bureau in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.
Alamo Cenotaph (Photo: John C. Moritz/USA Today Network)
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