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Archaeological investigation begins after human remains found beneath Sunset Heights street

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Human remains were discovered this week as crews worked on a water and wastewater project in Sunset Heights, triggering an archaeological investigation that put the work on hold.

The remains were found Tuesday near the intersection of Upson and Fewel, where El Paso Water Utilities crews have been replacing aging lines in the historic neighborhood since last summer.

“For the water and wastewater project in Sunset Heights, we followed our standard protocol to notify law enforcement upon discovery of possible remains. After an initial investigation, the Sheriff’s Department notified the Texas Historical Commission, which placed a pause on work,” El Paso Water spokeswoman Christina Montoya said.

An investigation revealed that the remains were human, she said. 

The Historical Commission “instructed EPWater to hire an archaeologist to examine the remains and the immediate surrounding area to determine archaeological significance. EPWater has hired Arcadis, which has an archaeologist on staff, to lead the investigation and report back to THC. In the meantime, all construction work on the project is on hold,” Montoya said. 

Sunset Heights is one of El Paso’s oldest neighborhoods, dating back to the 1890s.

Cover photo: A water and wastewater project in Sunset Heights was suspended after human remains were discovered on Tuesday. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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