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Remains found in Moscow basement may date from 19th century

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MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow forensic team have determined that the remains of more than 30 bodies found in the centre of Moscow date back to the 19th century at least, a source in local prosecutor's office said on Thursday.

The human remains, plus a rusty, unidentified make of gun, were uncovered on October 4 by archaeologists in a room under the floor of a basement of a house in Nikolskaya Street. The house was previously owned by the tsarist-era noble family, the Sheremyetevs.

"The theory that the remains belong to victims of 1930s [Stalin-era] repression has not been confirmed," Sergei Buluchevsky said, adding that such assumptions are "inconsistent and incompatible with reason."

A Moscow law-enforcement source earlier said the preliminary examination had identified gunshot-like wounds in the skulls of the remains. Further investigation failed to confirm the theory, however.

Buluchevsky also said that only four of 10 bags of bones have been examined so far, and these remains belonged to men, women, children and even animals.

The forensic team gave no conclusions about the cause of death, nor how the bones had found their way into the basement. They also added that archaeologists and historians would be involved in the investigation after a complete forensic examination has been carried out.

The press secretary of Moscow's committee on cultural heritage said that the remains might date back as far as the 17th century, stating that a cemetery was located on the site during this period.

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