The University of Mississippi’s School of Medicine has abandoned the construction of a parking garage in Jackson after tests showed as many as 1,000 bodies are buried at the site.
The corpses are believed to be former patients of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum, which closed about 80 years ago.
"None have names," said Dr. James Keeton, dean of the medical school.
The cost to rebury the body would be about $3,000 per grave.
“We can’t afford that,” Keeton said.
"The property that the University of Mississippi Medical Center is located on used to be the location of the state insane asylum, which operated from 1855 to 1935," university spokesman Jack Mazurack told Yahoo News.
The school used ground-penetrating radar before breaking ground at the site.
"Historically, we knew that there were a lot of graves, many of which were not marked. In the '90s, we took the handful of marked graves and reinterred them in a designated cemetery area," he added.
The university discovered 66 graves in the fall of 2012.
"Throughout the years, as construction projects have gone on, on campus, we've occasionally run across a coffin,” Mazurack said. “In fall of 2012, we were extending a road for a new intersection. That extension ran across an area that had rows of graves."
"There are probably thousands more bodies that we've never seen," said Dr. Luke Lampton, chairman of the state Board of Health, who has researched and written about the asylum.
The State Lunatic Asylum opened on Jan. 8, 1855, and housed 150 patients. After the Civil War it was expanded to house 300 and the area was nicknamed “Asylum Hill.” There were 3,000 patients when the hospital was moved in 1935.