SLIDESHOW: Excavation Begins at Eastern State Hospital

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Work is underway in Lexington to unearth dozens of human remains found at one of the oldest psychiatric hospitals in the country. Archaeologists begin excavating Wednesday the remains of some 50 people who were once patients at Eastern State Hospital. Dr. David Pollack of the Kentucky Archaeological Survey has a lot of questions.

"What can we tell about the people that were buried here? What were their lives like? How long did they live? What did they do? We're going to try to learn as much as we can from their bones."


The remains were found on an unmarked cemetery dating back to around 1840 to 1860. The old hospital is being torn down and will be rebuilt at another location.

"It brings them back to life," says Pollack. "You know they're a forgotten people in terms of a cemetery that was here then the stones get removed. And so in essence these people have become lost to history. And through our work we can bring them back."

The bones were found by construction workers. A new Eastern State Hospital is being built at another location and Bluegrass Community and Technical College will eventually occupy the property.

Other remains have been located in the past, and State Finance Cabinet spokeswoman Cindy Lanham says this latest discovery is no surprise.

"We did anticipate finding the remains and knew it would be a costly and lengthy process. It's not impacted the budget any and it's not delayed the process any of the construction."

Exhuming the remains and reinterring them is expected to cost several hundred thousand dollars.