Giving the Dead a New Life: Cemeteries and Bioarchaeology

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

Through the study of cemeteries and human remains, historical archaeologists can provide a better understanding of the life of the long deceased. This session explores different ways of looking at the dead, from the analysis of grave goods, mass graves and mortuary practices to the detailed analysis of skeletal remains.

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  • Documents (9)

  • Action, Compromise, and Transformation: Mortuary Genealogies and Social Change in the Virgin Islands and Barbados (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Helen Blouet.

    This paper interprets documentary data, material remains, and landscape histories for St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands (formerly part of the Danish West Indies) and Barbados (part of the British Commonwealth) to examine how Caribbean Moravian congregations enacted, compromised, and transformed burial and commemorative practices through social and spiritual interactions. I identify historical variation in burial site materiality and spatiality to understand how burial grounds reflected and informed...

  • Death, Race, and Childhood: An Examination of Toys as Grave Inclusions (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicole Lane.

    During the Victorian Era, the concept of childhood followed a set of rules and values dictated by white upper and middle-class society. When the Industrial Revolution started around 1840, toys could be mass-produced, allowing larger quantities to be distributed among both urban and rural areas at a cheaper cost. This allowed a greater abundance of working-class African-American families to purchase toys for their children. Not only could they now afford toys, but since mortuary hardware was also...

  • An Examination of Possible Mass Burials in Pensacola, Florida’s Historic St. Michael’s Cemetery (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicole Rosenberg Marshall.

    St. Michael’s Cemetery is the oldest extant cemetery in Pensacola, Florida. Platted in 1810, the cemetery was in use through the epidemic events that regularly swept Northwest Florida. Between 1810 and 1905, 1,399 documented deaths occurred during epidemic outbreaks, and of those deaths only 69 are accounted for within the cemetery. These numbers indicate that burials due to epidemics are likely unaccounted for within the cemetery. To investigate the possibility of unmarked burials, a Ground...

  • Examining African-American Burial Choices through Jewelry at Freedman’s Cemetery, Dallas, Texas 1869-1907 (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carolyn Harris.

    Freedman’s Cemetery, in Dallas, Texas, was an inclusive African-American cemetery that was open from 1869 until it was forcibly closed in 1907. In the 1990s, the burials of 1157 individuals were excavated and documented as a result of the expansion of the adjacent North Central Expressway. This paper will look at the jewelry present in those burials, and how the presence, quantity and type of jewelry relates to socioeconomic factors. This information will be compared to other spatially and...

  • The Impact of Preservation on the Determination of Sex from Human Remains in Archaeology (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stéphanie Lavallée.

    Determination of sex in the study of human remains is crucial. It is not only necessary for the assessment of other demographic features, like age and stature, but is also imperative in interpretative research on paleodemography or paleopathology. This paper will present the results of an analysis carried on more than 200 individuals of different origins and periods. The analysis tested the visual method proposed in the standards of Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994) and particularly, the degree of...

  • Invasive Methods in Bioarchaeology: An Ethical issue? A Case Study from St. Matthew’s Cemetery, Québec (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emeline Raguin.

    Bioarcheology is the study of human skeletal remains whose purpose is to provide biological, cultural and environmental information on past population. Thus, new specialized techniques and methodological approaches have been developed in order to get information on bone that are not possible to obtain using traditional methods. Unfortunately, many of these techniques, such as bone histology, are invasive: they will irreversibly alter the integrity of the bones. Ethical issues become important...

  • Keeping in touch: tombs in the urban space of Swahili towns, East Africa (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Monika Baumanova. Ladislav Smejda.

    This paper aims to examine the spatial distribution and role of the so-called pillar tombs, commonly encountered in the stone town sites of Swahili coast. The Swahili coastal towns thrived as major trading centres in the region of littoral East Africa in the historical period of the 8th to the 17th century AD. Since the earliest archaeological research on the coast, the specific form and monumental nature of the pillar tombs made them a prominent object of study and the first feature of the...

  • ‘La Gripe’ Among the Navajos in the Lower San Juan River Basin (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christine Jerla.

    Disease contact in the Americas and its biological and cultural consequences are significant areas of research. The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe of the twentieth-century outbreaks, killing between 20 and 40 million individuals worldwide and over half a million Americans. For Navajo populations, it was one of the worst calamities since their incarceration at Fort Sumner in 1864. Influenza pandemics typically cause the most casualties among the very young and the very old. However,...

  • The Text and the Body: The Case of the Reverend Henry G. Ludlow and the Remains of the Congregants of the Spring Street Presbyterian Church (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Meredith Ellis.

    The ability to discern a life history and population histories from the bones of the deceased is an important contribution to any study of the past. At the same time, however, other lines of evidence, when combined with the body, can offer results beyond what is traditionally expected in this field. The value of contextualizing our work is that words and actions are complementary, and yet show us very different versions of lived experience. This paper will explore the intersection of written...