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The Dead Yet Speak: 17th and 18th Century Gravestones in the Virginian Colonial Triangle

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Author: Williams, Courtney
Advisor: Norman, Neil L.
Committee Members: Brown, Marley R.; Gallivan, Martin D., 1968-; Whittenburg, James P.
Issued Date: 5/1/2012
Subjects: Gravestones
American Religious History
Early American Colonies
Great Awakening
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/16568
Description: For this honors thesis, 17th and 18th century cemeteries were surveyed within the Virginia Colonial Triangle, which includes the Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown colonies. In this region, 11 cemeteries and 117 gravestones were reviewed. This thesis builds on the theorization of Barbara J. Mills and William H. Walker's "Memory Work” that suggests the practices of communicating social memory are materialized in the archaeological record, and thus, by studying these gravestones, we can better understand what cultural and religious values the colonists held about death and the afterlife. In framing the argument, the thesis presents statistical analyses of these gravestones' inscriptions. Based on these tests and a review of documentary sources, it is concluded that temporal changes in their epitaph phrases stem from the Great Awakening's transformations in religious and cultural values, similar to the conclusion proposed by archaeologists James Deetz and Edwin Dethlefsen for New England's colonial gravestones.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology

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