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The African Burial Ground -- A Closer Look
A closer  look at the central portion of the excavated African Burial Ground. Michael Blakey, Scientific Director of the excavations, told Archaeology Magazine that he finds burial  101, in the lower left corner of the frame, to be especially intriguing. “101 is a man between 26 and 35 years old whose skull shape appears to be West African.” Analysis of the chemicals in his bones may indicate that he was born in Africa, and raised in the Caribbean. The skeleton shows evidence of tropical disease, evidence of hard work, and some healed spinal fractures. “He also has the most subtle and elegantly filed teeth.” On his coffin lid was a heart-shaped carving, a version of a symbol called the Sankofa.
“The Sankofa symbol is so perfect,"says Blakey. "It resonates so completely with the African Burial Ground. It has to do with the idea that you need to go back and search in the past, to let the past be a guide. It has to do with the connection with past and present. That you have to look backwards in order to look forwards. It means to revere ancestors and to respect elders -- all these kinds of ideas about the relationship between past and present are wrapped up in that symbol.”
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Courtesy of the General Services Administration