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Mistaken identity?: A reassessment of the Angel Mounds historic cemetery site using anthroposcopic and XRF analyses

Author(s): Meghan Buchanan ; Jayne-Leigh Thomas ; Heather Alvey ; April Sievert ; Lee Drake

Year: 2015

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In 1940, a collection of human skeletons were excavated from a historic cemetery on Mound F at Angel Mounds State Historic Site, near Evansville, Indiana. Based on the presence of a single historic grave stone, these remains were determined to be Euroamerican. However, after further study of morphological characteristics and copper staining, we suggest that several individuals are of Native American descent. An evaluation of the elemental composition of the copper staining using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF) suggests that the copper objects placed within the burials were composed of native copper as opposed to European copper. The results of this research have implications for the future of these individuals, as a reassignment of ‘Native American’ to these human remains will place the collection under the purview of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The study underscores the importance of re-investigating human remains identified decades ago, and questioning 20th century assumptions about ethnic and cultural identity.

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Mistaken identity?: A reassessment of the Angel Mounds historic cemetery site using anthroposcopic and XRF analyses. Jayne-Leigh Thomas, Meghan Buchanan, April Sievert, Heather Alvey, Lee Drake. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398121)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America