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Scaffolded Reading of "Drawing of an African Burial Ground Grave In Situ"

This brief activity leads students through analysis of an archaeologist's sketch of the grave of an African buried in colonial New York.

Objectives

  • Students will identify important parts of an archaeological drawing in order to understand aspects of slave life in colonial New York.

Instructions

Step 1: Pass out "Drawing of an African Burial Ground Grave In Situ". With students, read the description and make sure to explain that this is a secondary source created by an archaeologist after excavating the African Burial Ground in New York City. Explain to students that "in situ" is the term that archaeologists use to describe the position an object was found in underground.

Step 2: Pass out the worksheet "Reading a Drawing of an African Burial Ground Grave In Situ." Allow students to work in pairs or small groups to complete the steps on the worksheet.

Step 3: Go over student answers. With students, discuss the following questions:

  • Who is this person?

  • How did the person die?

  • If this grave is #101, how many other graves are there?

  • Where was this grave?

  • What do the "X's" mean?

  • What does the heart mean?

  • What does 88.5S, 49E mean?

  • Why are we interested in a person buried in 1769?

  • How many of the people buried were men, women, boys and girls?

  • How can you prove that this person was buried in 1769?

Historical Context

During the construction of a federal building in lower Manhattan in 1991, human remains were found. After a community protest, construction stopped and an archeological dig of the site was initiated. This unearthing of the African Burial Ground provided an opportunity to investigate the history of free and enslaved Africans who lived and died in New York during the colonial period (1664-1776).

Source | American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, 2010.
Creator | American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning
Rights | Copyright American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Item Type | Teaching Activity
Cite This document | American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, “Scaffolded Reading of "Drawing of an African Burial Ground Grave In Situ",” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed November 14, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1653.

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