"YEA, THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH;" MORTUARY AND MATERIAL CULTURE PATTERNING AT THE DONELSON SLAVE CEMETERY (40DV106), DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE

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Date
2013-01-18
Authors
Allen, Dan Sumner
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Middle Tennessee State University
Abstract
ABSTRACT
"YEA, THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH;" MORTUARY AND MATERIAL CULTURE PATTERNING AT THE DONELSON SLAVE CEMETERY (40DV106), DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE
By Dan Sumner Allen IV
The Hermitage Springs Site (40DV551) was a prehistoric aboriginal aggregation site discovered in 2001 during grading for residential development in northeastern Davidson County, Tennessee. From 2004 to 2006, archaeologists relocated more than 300 prehistoric burials as well as over 400 non-mortuary features from the site. In addition to prehistoric archaeological deposits, archaeologists excavated sixty historic burials thought to be associated with a community of slaves from the western edge of the site.
This thesis presents historic archaeological research on those historic African-American burials, perhaps one of the earliest, excavated slave cemeteries in the Cumberland Region. By developing an environmental and historical context for the cemetery, combined with an analysis of its mortuary and material culture patterns, the author identified general patterns and date ranges for the burials, thus shedding new light on burial practices afforded marginalized slave populations in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Tennessee.
The author compared the archaeological data to other professional excavation projects in the region. As a result of the analysis, he determined that the cemetery is associated with a community of slaves held on the farm of Captain John Donelson and his heirs, generally between 1820 and 1870. These findings are further supported in comparison with the available data for the white Donelson cemetery which was relocated to nearby Hermitage Church in the late 1940s.
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Archaeology, Cemetery, History, Material culture, Mortuary, Slavery
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