nigeria news

Mississippi Varsity to exhume 7000 dead bodies on campus

By  | 
Mississippi University Medical Centre: A place of dead bodies

Experts estimate up to 7,000 bodies are buried on the University of Mississippi Medical Centre campus.

They are former patients of the state’s first mental institution, called the Insane Asylum, built in 1855, and underground radar shows their coffins stretch across 20 acres of the campus, where officials have wanted to build.

But those officials have faced a steep cost $3,000 to exhume and rebury each body, as much as $21 million total.

Now UMMC is studying the cheaper alternative of handling those exhumations in-house, at a cost of $400,000 a year for at least eight years.

It also would create a memorial that would preserve the remains with a visitor’s centre and a lab that could be used to study the remains as well as the remnants of clothing and coffins.

Ralph Didlake, who oversees UMMC’s Centre for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, believes the lab would be the first of its kind in the nation, giving researchers insight into life in the asylum in the 1800s and early 1900s.

“It would be a unique resource for Mississippi,” said Molly Zuckerman, associate professor in Mississippi State’s department of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures.

“It would make Mississippi a national centre on historical records relating to health in the pre-modern period, particularly those being institutionalised.”

Didlake, Zuckerman and others have formed the Asylum Hill Research Consortium, made up of anthropologists, archaeologists, historians and even an expert in dating the wood of the coffins.

It was the consortium that developed the memorial/visitors centre/lab plans.

“We have inherited these patients,” Didlake said. “We want to show them care and respectful management.”

Mississippi’s first mental institution became a reality when reformer Dorothea Dix rallied support among state lawmakers to fund construction of the $175,000 asylum, completed in 1855.

Before the asylum, those suffering from mental illness were chained in jails and even attics, said Luke Lampton, chairman of the state board of health.

While the asylum provided a better place for patients, life remained harsh. Of the 1,376 patients admitted between 1855 and 1877, more than one in five died.

After the Civil War, the facility expanded to house 300 patients, and the area became known as “Asylum Hill,” a neighbourhood that included houses, a school and Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, a church for former slaves.

Read more: USA TODAY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *