Share
Explore BrainMass

Anthropological differences between the slaves and settlers

In a cemetery where we find only African American slaves and Anglo settlers, we see that the Anglo settlers eventually moved the graves whereas the slaves were not permitted to move. 200 years later, upon excavation, bodies were discovered and it was learned that the site was a formal cemetery.

1. How would you determine if any of these burials were some of the 'Anglo' settlers still buried in this long lost cemetery?
2. How would you go about carrying out an identification of the sex of the skeletons? What bony parts would be examined most carefully? What standards would you use?
3. What kinds of pathological conditions (e.g., disease, trauma, activity markers) would you expect to see in this sample if they are, in fact, skeletons of enslaved African Americans?
4. What would you expect the mortality profile (i.e., age, sex) of this skeletal sample to look like if it is an exclusively African American slave cemetery?

Solution Preview

1. How would you determine if any of these burials were some of the 'Anglo' settlers still buried in this long lost cemetery?

The team work of historians, art historians, ethnographers, archaeologists and forensic anthropologists would be able to determine whether the burials belonged to African American slaves or Anglo settlers; the examination of material culture of the slaves, historical information about the area, archaeological stratification and skeletons fragments would be necessary.

One of the archaeological tools used to determine the chronology of findings is the so-called Harris matrix. It is a scheme which shows the chronological succession of archaeological layers and the sequence of their deposition. It just means that the upper layers are younger and the lower are older. Thus, for example, if we know that after certain point of time (depicted in the particular archaeological stratification) Anglo settlers were not buried at this cemetery, we can assume that burials found in the upper parts would belong to the enslaved African American.

The other important factor is the exact information about the context of the cemetery. Who was buried there? What were their professions? The historical data might be helpful to determine the history of the area and its inhabitants. Knowing more about the buried people we are able to find out whether certain grave goods, if any available, were typically used by certain groups. Moreover, the examination of the bones might show us activity markers typical for a certain type of occupation and a group of people.

2. How would you go about carrying out an identification of the sex of the skeletons? What bony parts would be examined most carefully? What standards would you use?

There are some differences between the female and male skeletons. However, all the differences are relative, for example, some women's pelvic might be ...

Solution Summary

This solution is comprised of an explanation of the archaeological and anthropological data necessary to interpret the findings at the African American slaves and Anglo settlers' cemetery. Supplemented with suggested readings and more than 700 words of text, this explanation provides students with an in-depth perspective on how to interpret excavation findings.

$2.19