A group of city students are taking part in an archaeological dig to find the possible graves of British or American soldiers killed during the Battle of Brooklyn. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Nearly a dozen students could be seen digging and sifting Wednesday on a triangular plot of land located on Columbia Street in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.
"It is just intriguing because of the shape of it, it is intriguing because of the stories connected with it," said Brooklyn College Anthropology Department Chair Dr. H. Arthur Bankoff.
Bankoff is leading a group of college and high school students from Brooklyn College's Summer Archaeological Field School. Long time residents believe the land is a burial site for soldiers killed in the Battle of Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War.
"It was a neighborhood rumor more or less that this was a burial site and for many, many years it was considered a burial site," said Red Hook historian John Burkard.
One of the reasons for the rumor: The people who built an adjacent industrial building in 1932 veered clear of the site, leading folks in the neighborhood to believe that something lay beneath.
"I would like to see them find a connection to the Battle of Brooklyn 1776," Burkard said.
The students participating in the project say it's hard work, but that it will all be worth it if they make a big discovery.
"A lot of people don't realize how much stuff you can do in your own backyard, so they always think if you want to do archaeological digs lets go away to a different country but it's right here so it's pretty cool," said student Tunisia Mitchell.
"Nobody really knows the historical significance of Red Hook so it's kind of interesting to inform people about it," said student Jason Padilla.
As they dig, the students are looking for the outlines of graves. If they do find them, Bankoff says they will simply stop digging at that point.
"We'll leave them there. We're not into really disturbing people who were buried but it would be good to have some confirmation that they actually were here," Bankoff said.