Tal Simmons

Grant Type

Global Initiatives

Institutional Affiliation

Virginia Commonwealth U.

Grant number

Gr. GIG-13

Approve Date

August 31, 2022

Project Title

Simmons, Tal (Virginia Commonwealth U) "The East Marshall Street Well Project: K-12 Science curriculum on ethical practice with Ancestral Human Remains of African Descent"

The East Marshall Street Well Project research is the result of a multi-year community consultation concerning remains of ancestors discovered during construction on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University’s medical school in 1994. A well/anatomy pit, was uncovered; the state archaeologist was allowed only two days to recover the commingled human remains. The National Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian conducted an analysis, and a report was provided in 2012. Community consultations began in the spring of 2015 to publicize the project’s study findings and to elect individuals representing a ‘descendant community,’ who are members of the Family Representative Council (FRC). The FRC developed recommendations for research, memorialization and interment of the Ancestral Remains. The final recommendations were presented to the community in 2018 (1). Phase 1 of the research includes (a) genetic sequencing to re-associate bones, in order to individualize the ancestors and restore their dignity as human beings; (b) an investigation of the geographic origin of the individuals via genetic sequencing and dental trace isotopic analyses; and (c) the sequencing of the microbiome from dental calculus, to provide information concerning their health status. Phase II research concerns genetically linking these ancestors to living members of the community.