Historic Cemeteries Project

Supported by grants from the Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta

The Historic Cemeteries Project explores the history of cemeteries in western Canada in order to assess the fit between archaeological interpretive models for prehistoric cemeteries with the documented evidence for burial practices. The emphasis is on what is in the ground, rather than above ground, so symbolic interpretation rests, for example, on compass orientation of burials, grouping of graves (e.g., by age, sex, status or kin), the nature of burial variability within and between cemeteries, and placement of the cemetery in the landscape. The re-use of cemeteries and graves and the abandonment of burial places also are of interest. The project does not involve the excavation of any cemeteries.

In addition to contributions to theory in the archaeology of mortuary practices, results of this project have implications for the management of old cemetery land, including the conservation, protection, and/or commemoration of registered cemeteries, unregistered (usually rural) family cemeteries, and the traditional burial places of Canada's First Nations.

Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver

Pioneer Cemetery, Saskatoon

This project is in progress and further details will be posted when available.

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