One of the largest exhumations in Australia’s history took place in Perth in an effort to put the human remains of over 300 people to proper rest
One of the largest exhumations in Australia’s history took place in Perth in an effort to put the human remains of over 300 people to rest. A cemetery from the 1800s, which later became a school playground and subsequently a parking lot, has been dug in a year-long effort to provide the human remains a dignified place for rest. According to The Guardian, the exhumation will also provide an insight into how the people during the colonial era lived, apart from burial practices and stories of individuals.
From cemetery to car park
It is believed that the ground was used for burials until 1899 following which it was left unused for decades. Before being used as a playground for a girl’s school in the 1950s, the cemetery was neglected for years and had suffered from several fires by then that destroyed the wooden nameplates over the deads. The school closed in the 1960s and the land was turned into a car park before it was sold again in 2014 to Australian Development Capital.
However, when the land was sold to the Australian Development Capital, a condition was put forward that all human remains will be dug out and relocated to some other place. An archaeological team was hired to complete the process and when they started work in October 2019, they were able to dugout remains of 346 individuals. Only some of the graves had fully preserved skeletons at the site, while the rest only had a bone or teeth due to the level of decomposition over a century. Several well-preserved coffins were also recovered.
According to the report, many of the graves in the Chinese section of the cemetery were believed to be empty because of the practice that the Chinese community followed. The Chinese community buried their loved ones in a normal burial ceremony, but later would come back and exhume the remains to send back to China. Meanwhile, some of the graves also contained historical objects as in one case of a Chinese man whose jacket has been preserved after taking permission from the Chinese community.
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