Secrets of the Dead: Ben Franklin's Bones
Just off the Strand in London, at 36 Craven Street, is an elegant, four-story Georgian townhouse with a very important place in the history of the United States. As the Colonial ambassador to the British Colony of America, Benjamin Franklin lived and worked here for nearly 20 years during the 18th century. But two centuries later, the Craven Street house revealed a shocking history when a group of U.S. historians bought it for a museum and builders started the renovation in the basement. Work quickly stopped when over 1,200 bones from at least 10 bodies were discovered. The police were called and the house was cordoned off. Tests proved that the bones dated back to the mid-18th century - to the time Franklin was in residence. Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father, one of the most eminent thinkers and scientists of the 18th century Enlightenment, was a suspect.
Careful investigation of the bones determined these were not victims of a serial killer but of another sinister act, and that others were implicated. Franklin knew very well that while he was upstairs drawing up the blueprint for an American republic, an illegal anatomy school run by his great friend, the brilliant young anatomist William Hewson, was thriving in the basement.
Ben Franklin's Bones solves a modern mystery born in the dark fringes of the Age of Enlightenment, showing how illegal grave robbing practices - taking place right beneath Benjamin Franklin's feet - proved invaluable to the advancement of medical science.
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