Recovering a Black Cemetery: Automated Mapping of Hidden Gravesites Using an SUAV and GIS in East End Cemetery, Richmond, VA.
Estimates suggest that over 15,000 people are buried at East End Cemetery, a historic African American cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, that until recently received no public funding for upkeep. Here, we present a case study analysis and potentially replicable methodology for counting and locating unmarked burial depressions in non-forested areas using a low-cost sUAV (drone) and simple, hydrology-based geographic information systems analyses. Upon visual inspection of 12% of our final 8,000 burial site dataset, we find our dataset is a plausible representation (75% accuracy) of potential grave locations. We hope that the methods presented below can be implemented to assist in reclaiming historically underfunded Black cemeteries across the American South.
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Spera, Stephanie A., Matthew S. Franklin, Elizabeth A. Zizzamia, and Ryan K. Smith. “Recovering a Black Cemetery: Automated Mapping of Hidden Gravesites Using an SUAV and GIS in East End Cemetery, Richmond, VA.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology Online First (January 28, 2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-021-00642-3.