New York African Burial Ground Archaeology Final Report, Volume 1. Chapter 11. Pins and Shrouding
Part of the Archaeology of African Burial Ground National Monument, New York project
Author(s): Jean Howson
It is our assumption that for those interred at the African Burial Ground preparation of the body included some form of covering, whether winding sheet, shroud, or clothing. Where remnants of such dressing has not survived, we cannot know how the body was treated, though it seems most likely these cases had cloth that had been wound about the corpse or sewn or tied shut. Due to preservation conditions, textile and fiber fragments recovered from graves at the African Burial Ground were only found in association with metal artifacts (pins, buttons, coins, jewelry, nails).
Other than coffin remains, the most common artifacts recovered from graves were copper-alloy straight pins. These were always referred to in the field records as “shroud pins.” Pins, however, may have been used to fasten clothing (especially for women), or to fasten a strip of cloth used to tie up the chin of the deceased. An attempt has been made to analyze the placement of the pins on the body to better decide whether a winding cloth, some other type of burial garment, or clothing is indicated. This chapter focuses on pins; other clothing items are discussed in Chapter 12.
Cite this Record
New York African Burial Ground Archaeology Final Report, Volume 1. Chapter 11. Pins and Shrouding. Jean Howson. In New York African Burial Ground Archaeology Final Report, Volume 1. Pp. 288-305. Washington, D.C.: Howard University. 2006 ( tDAR id: 5653) ; doi:10.6067/XCV87W69PN
Calendar Date: 1640 to 1800
Individual & Institutional Roles
Contributor(s): Shannon Mahoney; Janet L. Woodruff
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