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Archaeologists search for more human remains at Deerfield Beach construction site

69 townhomes to be built on former black cemetery

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DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Archaeologists are continuing to search for human remains at a Deerfield Beach construction site that was once a historic black cemetery.

In a news release, Boca Raton developer Rob Kassab said he cooperated with the state's request to pause the archaeological study at his Village Park development site after several human skull fragments, gold-capped teeth and a coffin handle, among other artifacts, were found on a portion of the land.

"This was an African-American cemetery that dated from about 1898 to 1940," archaeologist Bob Carr said. "A large part of the population of the deceased here were actually black bohemians that had come over for work."

Deerfield Beach commissioners in April approved construction to begin on 69 townhomes, but Kassab voluntarily conducted the archaeological study on his site because of concerns throughout the community regarding the current locations of those who were buried at the site.

"We are pleased to resume our testing so that we and the entire community can hopefully, once and for all, learn exactly what is actually here on this site so we can then take the appropriate next steps," Kassab said.  "We also continue to cooperate with the state of Florida's archaeologist to provide them with information they need.  We have been open and transparent throughout this entire process and will continue to be going forward."

During the archaeological study, which began in late May, 184 anomalies were found. 

"We actually did uncover evidence of at least one grave on this property," Carr said. "We had already dug 62 holes without finding anything, but on the 63rd hole we did find something."

If any more human remains or artifacts are found, Kassab said the state will be notified and further excavations will cease.

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