At the 7th annual Archaeological Conference for the South Carolina Lowcountry, held at the College of Charleston, April 8th 2017, staff archaeologists, Jeremy C. Miller and Taryn P. Ricciardelli, presented two posters. These focused on our work at the New First Missionary Baptist Church burial ground on Edisto Island and at DeReef Park.
DeReef Park: A Case Study in the Preservation of Cultural Memory in Response to the Changing Social Landscape of Charleston, South Carolina
Taryn P. Ricciardelli, Jeremy C. Miller, Joanna Gilmore, and Ade Ofunniyin Affiliations: Gullah Society and the College of Charleston
As Charleston goes through many architectural and structural changes, there is a greater concern that old neighborhoods and cultural memory will be lost or forgotten. In an effort to accurately preserve the history of Charleston, the employment of cultural methodological practices such as recording oral histories, preserving historic artifacts and photographs, and involving both the original families and new families of Charleston becomes essential. The development of DeReef Park and its effect on the surrounding community is one example of why clear and honest communication between community members, archaeologists/ anthropologists, and the city is beneficial. DeReef Park was once a vibrant African-American community, with deep roots in Charleston’s historical mosaic. The preservation of the neighborhood’s history is crucial for the historical and cultural consciousness of Charleston, and will also play an integral role in re-establishing trust between old and new community members so that further development is undertaken in an ethical and efficient process. When consulted by the city of Charleston, Gullah Society, hosted an event for the members of DeReef; essentially opening a forum in which community members could express concerns, speak openly, share memorabilia, and record oral histories with both the community and Gullah Society.
The Documentation and Preservation of Sacred African Burial Grounds in the South Carolina Lowcountry
Jeremy C. Miller, Taryn P. Ricciardelli, Joanna Gilmore, and Ade Ofunniyin Affiliations: Gullah Society and the College of Charleston
The aim of the Gullah Society is to make the benefits of advocacy, education, and civil practices productive for minority groups pursuing avenues of cultural preservation, integrative education, and community engagement. Archaeological methodology is an especially relevant tool when conducting surveys of African-American heritage sites, including sacred burial grounds. In 2014, Gullah Society –through a partnership with the College of Charleston—began to document sacred burial grounds on Daniel Island, South Carolina. Earlier work laid the foundation for a methodology to document and preserve cultural heritage sites across the Lowcountry. Since 2015, Gullah Society has refined methodological approaches for documenting and preserving Gullah and African-American cemeteries and sacred sites using a variety of procedural options. The spectrum of methodologies fulfills projects on a range of budgetary limitations. The documentation of the New First Missionary Baptist Church on Edisto Island is one example of the aforementioned methodologies in practice. Archaeologists utilized surveying techniques, aerial photography, and mapping to accurately portray the sacred burial site behind the church, while also creating a revisable document that will involve the surrounding community as the burial ground undergoes change. The final map and recommendations for further preservation was presented to the New First Missionary Baptist Church, and has become part of a broader discourse on the preservation of heritage sites.