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Reconstructing the Landscape of Death: A City-Site Approach to the Study of African American Burials

Author(s): Ywone Edwards-Ingram

Year: 2014

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Summary

This paper summarizes the main findings of an analytical synthesis of archaeological, documentary, and oral history evidence about burial practices relating to enslaved and free African Americans within the geographic confines of the town-sized museum of Colonial Williamsburg and its environs. It addresses a persistent query in the living-history interpretation of this colonial Virginia capital, specifically; «Where did they bury slaves and free blacks?» In the late eighteenth century, the town registered more than one-half of its population as black. With a scattering of archaeologically-studied African American burials and an alleged mid-nineteenth cemetery relating to the same population that remains unexcavated in its historic core, the question impinges on the museums ongoing study and restoration of its designated areas. The paper also highlights socio-religious formations of African Americans to underscore the significance of a city-site approach to the archaeological study and historical reconstruction of the social and cultural landscape of death in Williamsburg, Virginia.


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Reconstructing the Landscape of Death: A City-Site Approach to the Study of African American Burials. Ywone Edwards-Ingram. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436655)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-9,09

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