Contact:

Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky, Executive Director, New Haven Museum

203-562-4183, ext. 20, matockarshewsky@newhavenmuseum.org

Julie Winkel, Publicist

(860) 203-815-0800, jwinkel@live.com

 

Secrets of Bones from New Haven Green to be Divulged at New Haven Museum 

New Haven, Conn. (October 6, 2021)—Former state archeologist Dr. Nick Bellantoni (Connecticut’s “Indiana Jones”) and Dr. Gary Aronsen, director of the Yale University Biological Anthropology Laboratories, will reveal the results of the investigation into human remains and time capsules discovered on the New Haven Green. The New Haven Museum will host the free, virtual presentation, “Forensic Analysis of the Lincoln Oak Skeletal Remains,” on Thursday, October 28, 2021, at 6 p.m. Register here.

In October 2012, winds from Hurricane Sandy toppled the Lincoln Oak on the Green. A partial human skeleton was visible within the historic tree’s exposed roots, creating an enigmatic story that captured the imagination of the entire country and a unique opportunity to study a colonial burying ground. In an initial presentation at the New Haven Museum in 2013, a panel of researchers including Bellantoni and Aronsen revealed they had identified the remains of six individuals: three adults, two children and one unidentifiable. 

In this updated presentation, Bellantoni and Aronson will revisit the Lincoln Oak discovery and fieldwork and discuss the latest findings from the forensic analyses of the skeletal remains. “This project is intriguing on a couple of levels,” says Bellantoni. “There’s the the discovery story, and how we excavated the remains from the tree root mat (ironically, on Halloween), and then there’s the forensic analyses of the skeletal remains and associated artifacts which tell us about the lives of the early settlers of the New Haven Colony, and health and disease in the late 1700s.” 

The research team examined the biological and archaeological evidence using a multidisciplinary approach that combines the expertise of municipal historians and academic researchers. The research was supported by the Committee of the Proprietors of the Common and Undivided Lands of New Haven and the Yale University Department of Anthropology.

The New Haven Museum—which hosted a panel discussion unveiling the research team’s initial findings in 2013—received a donation of the contents of two time-capsules uprooted by the Lincoln Oak from the Committee of the Proprietors of the Common and Undivided Lands of New Haven. One of the capsules, buried on the Green in 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, included a grapeshot cannon ball and a musket ball taken from the battlefield at Gettysburg. 

About Nick Bellantoni

Bellantoni serves as the emeritus state archaeologist with the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at the University of Connecticut (UConn). He received his doctorate in anthropology from UConn in 1987 and was shortly thereafter appointed state archaeologist. He also serves as an adjunct associate research professor in the Department of Anthropology at UConn and was a former president of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut and the National Association of State Archeologists. 

About Gary Aronson

Gary Aronsen is a biological anthropologist and director of the Yale University Biological Anthropology Laboratories. He began his career in archaeology, and his research branches between primate ecology and behavior and bioarchaeological investigations of skeletal elements locally and globally. He studied at the City University of New York/Hunter College, George Washington University, and Yale University. He has conducted fieldwork in Panama, Kenya, Uganda, the DRC, Alaska, Connecticut, and Brooklyn, New York.

About the New Haven Museum

The New Haven Museum, founded in 1862 as the New Haven Colony Historical Society, is located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue. The Museum collects, preserves and interprets the history and heritage of Greater New Haven and through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach brings more than 375 years of the Elm City’s history to life. For more information visit www.newhavenmuseum.org or facebook.com/NewHavenMuseum or call 203-562-4183.

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