chapter  15
8 Pages

African community identity at the cemetery

Mortuary archaeology considers the graves of individuals whose identities included, but were not limited to, membership in the communities in which they lived and worked. The graves of the working people of the past, and of African-Americans in particular, are often anonymous in that we do not know the specific identity o f the individual in the grave. Grave markers from such cemeteries, if ever present, may have been of natural materials, such as fieldstone boulders. They may have been of impermanent materials, which did not survive the elements, such as wooden crosses. Or, they may have been removed through lack of respect for the dead coupled with a desire to put the land to “productive use.” It is often the case that we only know that the deceased was a member of a particular congregation or community.