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Grant helps uncover burial sites at Old Mission Santa Ines

Human remains were found outside the Old Mission Santa Ines cemetery boundary.

Old burial records show 1,995 people including priests, early settlers and Native Americans buried on mission grounds. However, most of the deceased do not have any markers to label them and most of the records were written in Spanish.

A mission archivist named Sheila Benedict has been searching for answers for years so she applied for a grant. The California Missions Foundation and Native Daughters of the Golden West agreed to help with more than $10,000.

The grant was used for forensic dogs trained to sniff for human remains and archaeology physicists use new radar technology to map out what we can’t see underground.

“There’s such a density of graves here that there really isn’t we really can’t say there’s individual graves shafts. There’s people buried immediately adjacent to each other, possibly on top of each other,” said David Maki, an archeology physics from Archaeo-Physics, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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