Cedar Grove Historic Cemetry: A Study in Bio-History.
ARKANSAS ARCHEOLOGICAL SURVEY FAYETTEVILLE
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Excavations carried out in 1982 by the Arkansas Archeological Survey under contract with the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Cedar Grove site 3LA97 in Lafayette County, Arkansas, recovered and relocated 80 graves from an historic Black cemetery threatened by revetment construction along the south bank of the Red River. Each grave was excavated and the artifactual and skeletal data were recorded in temporary field laboratories prior to the relocation of all remains to a new cemetery. Analysis of the artifactual material dated all graves to the period 1890 to 1927 when the cemetery was covered by silt from a major flood of the Red River. Preliminary analysis of the casket hardware and personal grave goods suggests differential mortuary treatment by age and possibly economic resources. Analysis of the skeletal demographics showed that the reconstructed age and sex profile represents a highly stressed but normal biological population. Preliminary analysis of the skeletal data indicates high frequencies of anemia, rickets, scurvy, and protein malnutrition. The presence of weanling diarrhea is indicated by high frequencies of systemic periostitis, active cribra orbitalia, and a modal childhood age at death of 18 months. High frequencies of degenerative joint disease on the adult skeletons suggests a hard rigorous life style which indicates that the amount of physical labor required of Blacks had not changed since slavery. Comparison of these data to the historical record reveals that diet, health, and general quality of life for southwest Arkansas Blacks had deteriorated significantly since emancipation due to the fall in cotton prices and legalized discrimination.
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