Archaeologists have provided an update on information yielded at a cemetery with unmarked graves in Houston, Texas, found earlier this year. They believe the 95 unmarked graves found at the site belong to African Americans who worked in force labour conditions on plantations.
When the Civil War ended, a convict-leasing system was implemented by the state allowing plantation owners to replace the labour force they had lost when slaves were freed with prisoners. The men who worked in those terms often suffered physical abuse and high mortality rates. The cemetery found in Texas last April is now being excavated and the first results show that it dates between 1878 and 1910, consistent with the time the convict-leasing program was deployed.
The site was investigated by the Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) and last week they announced that out of the 95 burials forty eight individuals have now been exhumed, and analysis has been carried out on 20 of them.
All the individuals buried at the site are male but one, and their age at the time of their death ranges between 14 to 50-70 years.
Last week, at a press conference, archaeologists showed reporters sketches from some burial sites and artefacts unearthed at the site were displayed.
Historians have highlighted the historical significance of the site and students from local schools have already visited the location. The excavated remains will be reburied at an appropriate location.