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Forgotten Bones
Cover of Forgotten Bones
Forgotten Bones
Uncovering a Slave Cemetery
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An ordinary construction project uncovers an extraordinary archaeological discovery. Imagine you're watching a backhoe dig up the ground for a construction project when a round object rolls down a...
An ordinary construction project uncovers an extraordinary archaeological discovery. Imagine you're watching a backhoe dig up the ground for a construction project when a round object rolls down a...
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  • An ordinary construction project uncovers an extraordinary archaeological discovery.

    Imagine you're watching a backhoe dig up the ground for a construction project when a round object rolls down a pile of dirt and stops at your feet. You pick it up, brush off some dirt, and realize you're holding a skull!

    This is exactly what happened in Albany, New York, in 2005. Workers were putting in new sewer line when a backhoe driver dug up a skull. After police declared the skull wasn't connected to any recent crimes, a team of archaeologists took a closer look. They determined the skull was from a Black person who had died at least one hundred years earlier.

    Suddenly the construction site turned into an archaeological dig. Scientists excavated more bones and realized that they had located a long-lost cemetery for enslaved people from the 1700s. Slavery had been legal in the northern United States, including in New York State, in colonial times, but the stories of these enslaved people are largely unknown. This site became just the third slave cemetery ever to be excavated in the North. See how archaeologists pieced together the truth about these once forgotten bones.

    "A fascinating glimpse into how archaeologists piece together the past."—Booklist

    Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year

About the Author-

  • Lois Miner Huey is an archaeologist for the state of New York. She has written nonfiction articles and books for kids, many of which focus on archaeology. She lives near Albany, New York.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2015

    Gr 5-7-Readers' interest in this volume will be piqued from the stunning cover image of a 200-year-old skull. The book explains how archaeologists in Albany, NY, excavated a slave cemetery and analyzed artifacts using DNA evidence, soil testing, and historical puzzle-solving. Though the science and technology are sophisticated, the descriptions are written in plain, accessible language. The organization is easy to follow. Photographs, illustrations, and diagrams on every page bring the subject to life by clarifying visually how artifacts are examined. The author adopts an objective tone, though she doesn't avoid discussing the realities of slavery, emphasizing in the last two chapters evidence of the physical abuse, malnutrition, and disease that resulted from the brutal conditions. Readers may be surprised to discover that there was slavery in the North in the 18th century, and they will appreciate seeing how much archaeologists can learn from seemingly small details. VERDICT A solid choice for libraries that serve middle school students, this title will appeal to some would-be archaeologists and is a great addition to classrooms as well.-Amy Thurow, New Glarus School District, WI

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2015
    The discovery of a skull by construction workers begins an archaeological mystery. In Albany, New York, in 2005, workers putting in a new sewer line dug up a skull. After police confirmed the skull was not connected to any recent crimes, a team of archaeologists took a closer look. They determined the skull was from an African-American who had died more than 100 years earlier. Scientists excavated more bones and realized that they had located a long-forgotten slave cemetery. This site became just the third slave cemetery ever to be excavated in the North. Huey, an archaeologist for the state of New York, offers an insightful, intimate look at the processes used to excavate the site, how the remains are examined in the laboratory, DNA studies, facial reconstruction, and the historical research required to try to find specific information about the slaves buried at the site. Huey shows how laboratory tests revealed important information about the slaves buried in that cemetery and others, such as their ages and health at the time of death, their diets, and even the region of Africa they originated from. A fascinating, informative insider's look at how science is used to reconstruct the past. (diagrams, photos, glossary, source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2015
    Grades 5-8 In this concise volume, Huey offers a fascinating glimpse into how archaeologists piece together the past. During a construction project in New York, workers unearthed a human skull, which led to the discovery of an eighteenth-century burial site, eventually determined to be a slave cemetery. Huey follows the scientists' process as they investigate the identities of the remains and the circumstances that led individuals to be buried in unmarked graves. A professional archaeologist herself, Huey explains many of the methods used by the team, such as excavation, laboratory analysis, and facial reconstruction. From the initial discovery of the bones to the wider clues found in artifacts, DNA, and primary sources, the scientists determine the religious beliefs, living conditions, and causes of death for the men and women in the cemetery. Together with chronicles of two other noted northern slave cemeteries and full-color photos of the excavation in process, this account provides a vivid description of both the eighteenth-century slave experience and the field of archaeology.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

    "In 2005, a skull rolled out of the debris dislodged by a backhoe in Albany, New York, as a crew dug trenches for new sewer pipe. Work came to a standstill as police and archaeologists were called in to estimate the age of the skull and then await the coroner's call to treat the trench as a crime scene or an area of archaeological interest. The skull was determined to be African American, and well over a hundred years old with no obvious signs of violence, so archaeologists were allowed to investigate further, uncovering multiple burials in what was clearly a slave cemetery associated with the eighteenth-century Schuyler family. Huey, a New York state archaeologist, ably guides readers through the excavation, the testing done on the skeletal remains, and the documentary evidence that shaped interpretation of the historical context. A chapter is also devoted to comparisons with two other excavated burial sites in the North which, together with the Albany discovery, shed light on the daily lives of slaves outside the South. Although works such as Walker's Written in Bone (BCCB 4/09) offer more detail about archaeological techniques, this book manages to convey in a much shorter volume the relationship between field work and documentary research and the way comparative studies broaden our perspective on the rigors of slave life in smaller households as well as in large plantations, which have received more scholarly attention. Contemporary photographs of the excavation, period reproductions, a glossary, source notes, index, and lists of resources are included."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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