"Hark from the tomb" : the culture history and archaeology of African-American cemeteries

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Whitaker, Jamie L.
Groover, Mark D.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Anthropology
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Archaeological material from early African-American cemeteries can yield a vast amount of information. Grave goods are evidence that certain West African burial traditions persisted over the years. Moreover, bioarchaeological data provides knowledge regarding health conditions, lifeways, and labor environments. Overall, these populations were under severe physical stress and average ages of death were young. Findings indicate that African folk beliefs persisted for a long period of time and were widespread in both the North and South of the United States and correspond to historical and ethnohistorical accounts. This is evidenced by the similar types of grave goods found in various cemeteries. Cemeteries from both the Northeast and Southeast are examined as proof that health and cultural trends were widespread throughout the continental United States.