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Army Team Wraps Up Search for Slave Graves
July 15, 2010

Dr. Jarrod Burks, director of geophysical survey for Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc., examines an object in a trench during an archaeological dig at Fort Monroe, Va., June 8th. (U.S. Army photo/Mark Haviland)

According to information available from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, a weeklong archaeological dig conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at Fort Monroe, June 8th-12th, yielded no evidence of a contraband slave cemetery that’s been a topic of speculation for years.

The archaeologists, led by Dr. Michael Hargrave from the Engineer Research Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, focused their attention on several anomalies identified by ground-penetrating radar during a site survey in February.

Dr. Hargrave and his team, Dr. Jarrod Burks, director of geophysical survey, and Jeff Dilyard, staff archaeologist, both with Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc., focused their efforts on determining if graves, human remains and artifacts were present in five trenches that included several anomalies – discolored areas in the ground that the team believed had the highest potential of being graves.

Thirty-two consulting parties, including the Contraband Historical Society, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and Preservation Virginia worked with the Army to determine what actions can be taken regarding Fort Monroe’s historic properties – such as the geophysical and archaeological search for a possible contraband cemetery.

Dr. Hargrave will submit a report detailing the geophysical and archaeological findings of the contraband cemetery investigation to officials at Fort Monroe in August.

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