"Cursed Be He that Moves My Bones:"The Archaeologist’s Role in Protecting Burial Sites in Urban Areas

Author(s): Elizabeth D. Meade; Douglas B. Mooney

Year: 2020


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Advocacy in Archaeology: Thoughts from the Urban Frontier" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

The pace of development in the northeastern US has resulted in the obliteration of cemetery sites for centuries. As populations swelled and cities expanded, formerly sacred burial locations have become valuable land ripe for development. As a result of loopholes in environmental review laws, gaps in social memory/the documentary record, and governmental inaction, sites known or likely to have contained human remains have been disturbed by construction activities. Archaeological advocacy groups are in a unique position to help prevent such desecration to ensure that unmarked cemetery sites are properly tested and human remains are documented, protected, or respectfully relocated. This paper examines the methodologies used to identify historic cemeteries in cities in the northeastern US, specifically Philadelphia and New York, and discusses efforts made by local archaeological organizations and independent archaeologists to increase public awareness of such sites, and to ensure that no graves are disturbed by future construction efforts.

Cite this Record

"Cursed Be He that Moves My Bones:"The Archaeologist’s Role in Protecting Burial Sites in Urban Areas. Elizabeth D. Meade, Douglas B. Mooney. 2020 ( tDAR id: 456791)


advocacy Cemeteries Urban

Geographic Keywords
United States of America

Temporal Keywords
17th century to the present

Spatial Coverage

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

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 994