At least 7,000 bodies could be buried on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus, officials have estimated.
The bodies are former patients of the state’s first mental institution and underground radar revealed that their coffins stretch 20 acres across campus where the school wants to develop, The Clarion-Ledger reported Saturday.
School officials have ran into an issue in exhuming the bodies: cost. The newspaper reported that it could cost $3,000 to exhume and rebury each body, an effort that could cost up to $21 million.
The school is looking for cheaper alternatives in handling the exhumations possibly bringing down the yearly cost to $400,000 over the next eight years. The school is also looking at possibly creating a memorial for the bodies and opening a visitors center and a lab to study the remains, the paper reported.
“It would be a unique resource for Mississippi,” Molly Zuckerman, an associate anthropology professor at the school, told The Clarion-Ledger. “It would make Mississippi a national center on historical records relating to health in the pre-modern period, particularly those being institutionalized.”