Collaborating with Descendant Communities to Explore the Biological Heritage of Enslaved People at James Madison’s Montpelier through Ancient DNA Analysis
Over the past 30 years, historical archaeologists have studied the sites and material remains of enslaved people from across the American South. Recently, archaeologists have actively worked with descendants in this research, including excavation and archaeological interpretation. However, little has been done to build the connection between biological and historical heritages of enslaved people and their descendants. In this study, we utilized ancient DNA methodology to contextualize the maternal ancestry of three teeth that were discovered at James Madison’s Montpelier. The teeth were recovered from non-burial contexts associated with enslaved people living and working at Montpelier during the 18th and 19th centuries. Before DNA extraction, the teeth were 3-D scanned and printed to preserve their morphology in digital form. The genetic analysis of the tooth remains not only expands the breadth of knowledge about slavery in the US, but also provides an opportunity for archaeologists and a community of descendants from Montpelier to collaborate in a new way. Therefore, this study illustrates how the knowledge from a genetic study can be of value to both the academic and public settings.
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Collaborating with Descendant Communities to Explore the Biological Heritage of Enslaved People at James Madison’s Montpelier through Ancient DNA Analysis. Sterling Wright, Cara Monroe, Mary Furlong, James Reeves, Courtney Hoffman. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443337)
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min long: -168.574; min lat: 7.014 ; max long: -54.844; max lat: 74.683 ;
Abstract Id(s): 22578