Archaeologists are digging up the remains of a small town in northern Africa, as they search for a smallpox epidemic that swept the region in the 1930s.
A team of about 15 archaeologists, including four children, is working to uncover a cemetery, an old house and an old graveyard in the village of Pata, which was once home to around 300 people, according to local residents.
In the village, which lies on the border with Uganda, archaeologists were digging through a sandbank and uncovering evidence of a single family.
“The villagers lived in a house that was built around 15 years ago, which is still there,” one of the archaeologists, Kianlaje Nyangi, told local media.
The team found a stone coffin and a wooden box, which were both empty.
“They had buried themselves here, because the house had been destroyed in the war,” Mr Nyangir said.
Mr Nyanghi said he was surprised to find that the family buried themselves in the same grave as other graves, and that he believed they were buried together.
While it was not known how many people were buried in the cemetery, there were at least 50 families, according the Pata History Society.
As part of the work, the archaeologists have also unearthed a nearby cemetery, where a small group of villagers lived.
Local people have long believed the smallpox outbreak in the 1940s wiped out all traces of the town’s inhabitants, and they had long forgotten the village was there.
Pata was home to many of Nigeria’s smallpox survivors and was a popular spot for families to visit and for children to play.
After the war, the community began to move, but the small village has not been returned to.
Many of the village’s graves were empty, which the archaeologists hope to fill in with dirt, stones and a piece of paper.
At the time, the village had a population of around 40 people.
Dr Nyangira told The Associated Press news agency that the small community has long been feared, and the discovery of the graves is a significant step forward.
“These graves are the first of their kind,” he said.
“We have to find them.”
“We don’t know if we will find the village in the next two to three years,” Dr Nyangibi said.