An abandoned stadium in Tennessee might be covering a grave site of African slaves. The Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research (TVAR) said that it was very likely that the ground near the Greer Stadium in Nashville has human remains.
An archaeological study is being conducted of the former park for the Nashville Sounds as part of the preliminary study ahead of plans to convert the area into the Cloud Hill mixed-use development. The project is expected to include housing, retail, entertainment and park space, but may hit a snag if the research reveals anything of historic importance.
"Based on our ground-penetrating radar results, we believe that there is a high likelihood of humans remains (northwest of the stadium) if interments were made in this area historically," Virgil Beasley, geophysical senior investigator at Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research, wrote in the report, according to The Tennessean.
The area that is expected to contain the remains is currently being used as the stadium's parking lot. It is also situated close to Fort Negley, a fortification that was built during the American Civil War. It was reportedly built by slaves, former slaves and by free blacks forcibly conscripted for the work, under orders from the Union forces.
According to records, around 2,768 blacks were officially enlisted to work on the project, 600 to 800 of whom died during the construction.
Historic preservationists believe there might be hundreds of graves onsite and are campaigning for the area to be converted into a public park in honour of the fort's African-American builders. The archaeologists' final report is expected by the end of 2017 and all redevelopment work has been put on hold untill then.
"Fort Negley is not a local treasure, not a state treasure, it's a national treasure," Doug Jones, attorney for the preservation group Friends of Fort Negley, told The Tennessean earlier this year. "And the mayor and a bunch of developers shouldn't be trying to cut some deal in a backroom to erase the history at Fort Negley."