Marianas High School has stumbled upon the remnants of what is believed to be a portion of a skeleton and some ancient artifacts alongside it during construction of the school’s new cafeteria.
The most populous high school in the CNMI discovered human remains of what unofficial reports refer to as “a portion of an arm” with ancient artifacts nearby. The digging occurred right next to the MHS Gymnasium in order to lay out the foundation for the new MHS cafeteria. Excavation was only about 3-5 feet.
Public School System associate commissioner for administrative services Glenn Muña told the media last Wednesday that construction has been ceased in order to find out more about the remains.
“The Historic Preservations Office issued a stop order to get archaeologists to come in and do some research to determine the next step,” said Muña.
Although Muña did not clarify whether the cafeteria would be moved as a result of the unexpected discovery, he informed the media that archaeological research must first be done to proceed with the construction, a postponement that would take at least 30 days. According to Muña, a request for quotation, or RFQ, is now being finalized for the hiring of an archaeologist to study the remnants.
“Once we get the archaeologists on board and we get the green light from HPO to proceed with the project then we would continue,” said Muña.
“We have a handful [of architects]; maybe two or three archaeologists on island or maybe in Guam, so we are seeking quotations from them so we can determine who the lowest bidder is,” he added.
The postponement of construction work on the cafeteria would depend solely on “how soon an archaeologist comes in and how soon the HPO would give us a green light [to continue],” said Muña.
According to PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh, the area must be surveyed to determine whether there are additional remnants nearby.
“It’s a little bit expensive for us… We’ll see what happens,” he said.
On the subject of relocating the cafeteria, Thornburgh is hopeful that is not going to happen as he said the current site was the “perfect location for a cafeteria.”
“There [aren’t that many] open locations in MHS that make sense. We just have to wait and see,” said Thornburgh as he clarified the decision to relocate the cafeteria was out of PSS’ hands.