Archaeologists find hidden tunnels below Alcatraz prison

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 10: Emirates Team New Zealand passes in front of Alcatraz Island during race 5 of the America’s Cup Finals against Oracle Team USA on September 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Archaeologists have confirmed a long-time suspicion of historians: the famed Alcatraz prison was built over a Civil War-era military fortification.

Researchers have found a series of buildings and tunnels under the prison yard of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, which once held Al Capone.

A study published in “Near Surface Geophysics” says archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar and terrestrial laser scans and historical maps and photographs. They found fully buried structures, ammunition magazines, and tunnels.

Historians believe that when the prison was built in the 20th century, workers chose to build over existing structures.

Alcatraz first came to the attention of the U.S. government after wresting control of California from Mexico in the 1840s. Its location in the middle of the San Francisco Bay made it attractive for military fortification purposes.

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