Who was Thomas Weir? Public

A socio-anthropological analysis of 18th century remains excavated at the site of hte First Baptist Church Cemetery of Philadelphia

The Arch St. Bones Project is a salvage archeology project that began in 2016. Hundreds of human remains were discovered at a construction site in Philadelphia, originally belonging to First Baptist Church of Philadelphia Cemetery (1707 –1860). This work focused on one of these individuals, Thomas Weir. It was established that he was an adult male, about 1.7 m tall. He was estimated to be 23-39 years old at death. Weir was buried in a wooden coffin of hexagonal style, which displayed decorative hardware, such as a metal inscription plate and handles. The skeletal remains showed notable osteopathology, including laminal spurs on all lower thoracic vertebrae, presence of Schmorl’s nodes on the superior and inferior bodies of select lumbar and thoracic vertebrae, small focal periosteal reaction on the right tibia, and hypoplasia of the enamel of the teeth on the incisors of the mandible. Exhaustive library, museum and archival research concluded that the majority of the excavated remains most likely dated from the 18th century, meaning that Weir’s remains could belong to one of five possible individuals that died during that time frame. Further molecular and anthropological studies may lead to the true identity of Thomas Weir.

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