NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Students and faculty at Quinnipiac University spent Friday morning examining human skeletal remains believed to be from Revolutionary War soldiers.
On an X-ray table was a piece of history. Well, a piece of a person from history. It’s part of skeleton. One of three found when homeowners in Ridgefield decided to renovate their basement.
Experts at Quinnipiac University are analyzing the first of those skeletons, to find out as much as they can about them. The house they were found under was added on to in 1790, possibly built over a burial ground from the battle of Ridgefield.
“Based on the fact that they were under the basement of this house that was built in 1790,” said Anthropology Professor Jaime Ullinger. “That there were buttons found with an individual that suggest that time period.”
In case you’re not familiar with the battle of Ridgefield: It was April 1777. British forces landed at Westport and marched to Danbury to destroy a continental army supply depot. They did that, but on the way back to Westport, they were chased down in Ridgefield by local troops led by General David Wooster, the guy Wooster square is named after, and a general from Norwich named Benedict Arnold.
The redcoats got away and made it back to their ships in Westport, but there were casualties on both sides. Out of respect for the dead, QU did not want the actual bones photographed by the press, but x-rays and CAT scans actually show the insides of those bones.
“So we were able to see different views of it,” explained student Adriana DiPietrantonio. “You could cut it open and look at the inside and stuff like that. You could see the indents of the veins and stuff like that.”
Eventually, they may be able to tell where they were from, which might let us know what side they fought for, even how and what they ate.
“Things like abscesses and the wear on the teeth, and for the bio-anthropology group, these pictures will be really helpful for them,” said Alicia Giaimo the chair of the Diagnostic Imaging Department.
It also allows the Quinnipiac students an unusual opportunity.
“And we get to use mammography, CAT scan and X-ray to see them,” said radiology student Erin Lowkes. “It’s an exciting opportunity to be able to see 240 year old bones.”
The state archaeologist is still excavating the rest of the skeletons. Then they will go through all these same tests in the coming weeks.