Skeletons’ Study Ramping Up as Yale Laboratory Re-Opens


The slow process of discovering  the identity of the skeletons found in Ridgefield in late 2019 will be ramping up this fall at the Yale University laboratory led by Dr. Gary Aronsen. Because of the Covid shutdown, the cleaning of the remains had been on hold in the absence of undergraduate assistants and lab workers.

Now that he’s back in his laboratory, Dr. Aronsen told the Ridgefield Historical Society, the work is proceeding slowly because “many of the elements are encased in a thick and hard matrix, making cleaning difficult.” The work is being “largely done with toothpicks and small wooden implements” and the bone conditions range from “flaky and friable to more robust and easily separated from the surrounding matrix.”

From what he’s seen so far, Dr. Aronsen said, “The elements are consistent with identification as large adult males with heavy muscle markings. There have been some interesting indicators of pathology and injury but these cannot be fully interpreted until cleaning is completed.

“With the fall semester beginning and with more undergraduate assistant availability, I am confident that the cleaning and sorting will move more quickly.  Following this process, we can then begin the selection of elements and dentition for isotopic, genetic, and other analyses and provide a more nuanced overview of each individual’s life history,” he concluded.

As more information becomes available, the Ridgefield Historical Society will share it with townspeople; visit