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African American cultural landscapes

Monday, April 15, 5:00-6:00 pm- virtual

The Role of Archaeology in Bridging Informational Gaps Between Diasporic Communities: A Case Study at Pandenarium, Mercer County, Pennsylvania- Virtual

Samantha Taylor, Senior Archaeologist, New South Associates, Inc.

African American cultural landscapes are often plagued by inaccurate yet deeply rooted historic narratives. These unreliable accounts of the past are often the result of longstanding prejudice, an absence of primary sources, and historically denying African American communities’ control over their own historical narrative. Pandenarium, a nineteenth century antebellum freedman community in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, was not exempt from a false narrative perpetuated by the local community.

Since 2009, archaeological investigations at Pandenarium have sought to uncover a more accurate account of settlement and to compare that narrative to similar archaeological sites across the east coast. Cultural landscape and comparative ceramic analyses conducted at the site suggest that the residence of Pandenarium took an active role in organizing their surroundings (material goods, settlement design) to suit their needs and provide a sense of familiarity. This new information combined with communication with descendants of Pandenarium has initiated public and professional interest in preserving the site and enabling the African American community in Mercer County to gain control over their history.

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