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Excavation of the African Burial Ground in New York City yielded the skeletal remains of more than 400 individuals. This paper is a preliminary discussion of beads associated with seven of the burials. The in situ bead configurations of three of the interments are distinctive and appear to be indicative of cultural practices of Africans in 18th-century New York. The configurations include necklaces and possibly wristlets, as well as waistbeads. The latter represent the first recorded instance of such use by Africans or African descendants in North America. These objects provide insight into the religious or ritual behavior of the people who utilized the burial ground.

Publisher Information

The Society of Bead Researchers is a non-profit scientific-educational corporation founded in 1981 to foster historical, archaeological, and material cultural research on beads and beadwork of all materials and periods, and to expedite the dissemination of the resultant knowledge. Membership is open to all persons involved in the study of beads, as well as those interested in keeping abreast of current trends in bead research.


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