The Archaeology of African Burial Ground National Monument, New York City, NY

Amid the hectic commerce and civic business of lower Manhattan is the final resting place of approximately 15,000 African Americans. They were buried, mainly during ­the eighteenth century, in the country's oldest known urban African cemetery. On February 27, 2006, using the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906, President George W. Bush proclaimed a portion of this site a National Monument. The total area of the cemetery is estimated to be 7 acres and the entire site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1993. The president's proclamation set aside National Monument in order to "promote understanding...encourage continuing research, and present interpretive opportunities and programs for visitors to better understand and honor the culture and vital contributions of generations of Africans and Americans of African descent to our Nation."

Free and enslaved Africans and African Americans buried their dead in the African Burial Ground, located outside the border of the original colonial town of New York. Burials may have begun as early as the mid-seventeenth century, but mainly the area was used as a cemetery from 1700 onward, by which time many of New York's churches prohibited the interment of free or enslaved Africans in the cemeteries of white congregations. The African Burial Ground continued in use until about 1795 when the demands of a developing, expanding New York City and growing population encroached upon then swept over the cemetery, most of which was in a low-lying area to the east of a north-south ridge upon which Broadway Avenue was constructed. By 1812, many of the graves had been covered with up to 25 feet of historic fill and soil. Not long afterwards, buildings and streets were constructed atop the newly filled surface and markings on a few historic maps became the only clues of the existence of the many burials far below the surface.

This collection contains detailed reports about the archaeology, history, and human remains of the African Burial Ground. In addition to the texts, the reports contain a wealth of maps, photos of artifacts, and other images. The reports are the result of research by a wide range of scholars, humanists and scientists, from a variety of institutions.

Investigation Types
Data Recovery / ExcavationArchaeological Overview

Material Types
Human RemainsMetalCeramicGlassMineralShellFaunaMacrobotanicalPollenWood

Geographic Keywords
New York County (County)New YorkManhattan

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