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Honoring Ancestors in Sacred SpaceThe Archaeology of an Eighteenth-Century African-Bahamian Cemetery$
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Grace Turner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781683400202

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683400202.001.0001

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Bioarchaeological Analysis of Remains

Bioarchaeological Analysis of Remains

(p.90) 5 Bioarchaeological Analysis of Remains
Honoring Ancestors in Sacred Space

Grace Turner

University Press of Florida

Presumably in constructing the sidewalk, the bones from these shallow burials were disposed of elsewhere. Remains of five adults and one child were excavated. Seven subadult teeth were surface-collected around a hole at the western edge of the site. Being buried in moist sand meant that most bones excavated were fragmented. Bones and teeth were examined for evidence of pathologies. This small sample is not representative of the community, but the pathologies provide insight on these persons’ lives. The linea aspera on the only femur excavated is fairly robust. The individual’s sex was indeterminate, but this ambiguity reinforced the point that both men and women in this community engaged in physically demanding work. Cranial fragments from two individuals were thickened, an indicator of anemia resulting from nutritional deficiency or disease. Cribra orbitalia was noted in the eye socket of one individual, another indicator of nutritional deficiency. Two of the child’s incisors have transverse lines, evidence of enamel hypoplasia, an indicator of infectious disease and nutritional stress. Individuals buried in this cemetery were likely of low social status, living in congested and unsanitary conditions with limited food. These pathologies raise questions about the extent these conditions existed among African-Bahamian communities. Economic opportunities for free and enslaved workers would have been limited.

Keywords:   linea aspera, cribra orbitalia, enamel hypoplasia, infectious disease, nutritional deficiency, African-Bahamian communities

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