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Reclaiming Memory of Those Unknown: An Archaeological Study of the African-American Cemetery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Author(s): Joseph A. Downer

Year: 2016

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Summary

This paper discusses the ongoing archaeological survey of the African-American Cemetery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Ultimately, this project was designed to bring about a better understanding of this space on the plantation landscape and to honor those unknown who call this spot their final resting place. Through the use of this space, it is believed that a portion of Mount Vernon’s enslaved population was able to culturally resist their imposed social position through the reinforcement their human identities, as expressed in communal gatherings and the practice of funerary rites. This project seeks to rediscover the locations of these long-forgotten burial plots, and by extension reveal the organization, layout, demographic make-up, and boundaries of the site. With this information, we can begin to study the ways in which this spot of land was transformed by Mount Vernon’s enslaved population into a sacred place endowed with exclusive and nuanced meaning.


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Reclaiming Memory of Those Unknown: An Archaeological Study of the African-American Cemetery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Joseph A. Downer. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434251)


Keywords


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 717

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