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Cemetery study at Emanu-El Jewish Cemetery in Victoria B.C.: A look at the potential benefits of simple, shrouded burials and the use of concrete fills

Author(s): Maya Cowan ; Vanessa Tallarico

Year: 2017

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Summary

The goal of our research was to analyze the correlation between decomposition, and damage to memorial structures around the Emanu-el Jewish Cemetery in Victoria B.C. We hypothesized that some concrete fill damage was due to casket decay after the fill was placed, causing it to sink or crack. We used damaged double plots with a single fill as evidence, because the side of the older burial had time to settle before the fill was poured over both plots. We found that damage was almost always on the side of the most recent burial, where the ground had not settled beforehand. Jewish custom dictates that memorials be placed one year after burial, and that all materials used in burial be completely biodegradable. In some Jewish traditions, bodies are shrouded for burial, rather than placed in the pine caskets used by many communities. Since a human body decomposes much faster than a casket, concrete fills could be used for a shrouded burial with less possibility of damage. Prior to our research, we were informed that Victoria’s Jewish community has expressed interest in accessing more traditional burial customs. We offer our results to the community to consider in their future practice.


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Cite this Record

Cemetery study at Emanu-El Jewish Cemetery in Victoria B.C.: A look at the potential benefits of simple, shrouded burials and the use of concrete fills. Maya Cowan, Vanessa Tallarico. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 432050)


Keywords

General
Burial Cemetery Jewish

Geographic Keywords
North America-Canada


Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17540

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