Skeletons unearthed near Washington Square Park

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Courtesy of Chrysalis Archaeology

As crews from the city's Department of Design and Construction were digging as part of a $9 million water main project in Greenwich Village, they stumbled upon a broken coffin and a large pile of skeletons.

Alyssa Loorya, the principal investigator for Chrysalis Archaeology, said contractors discovered two 15-by-18-foot crypts about three-and-a-half feet beneath the ground. The crypts are believed to date back to the late 18th Century or early 19th Century. One contained skeletal remains. The other had intact coffins stacked one on top of another. Loorya said these appear to be deliberate burials in family vaults. [SEE PHOTOS]

Thomas Foley is the associate commissioner for the Department of Design and Construction. He said the discovery wasn't completely unexpected because the area near Washington Square Park was formerly home to two Presbyterian churches. He said the archaeologists are part of the engineering team.

Now the focus shifts to identifying the remains. Loorya said some of the coffins in the second vault do have name plates attached. She said that the team will use high-resolution imaging to try to read some of the plates and ID the church and the people.