Thirteen University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) anthropology students are participating in an excavation at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park this month as part of a course on the history, archaeology and culture of slavery.

The students are enrolled in the course The Anthropology of Slavery, which examines the practice of slavery from historical, archaeological and cross-cultural perspectives and looks at how slavery has been practiced world wide, from ancient Egypt and the African slave trade to modern-day human trafficking.

As part of the class, the students are participating in the excavation of the slave quarters at Tannehill to learn how to locate, record, investigate, analyze and interpret artifacts associated with plantation life in Alabama.

Slaves once lived near and worked at Tannehill Ironworks, a foundry that produced iron for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Under the direction of Jack Bergstresser Ph.D., director of the Tannehill Iron and Steel Museum, the students are helping excavate what is believed to be a cooking shed used by slaves. So far, the students have found bits of pottery, pots and plates, as well as nails. The students are keeping detailed journals of their class discussions and experiences at the excavation site.

The course is team-taught by UAB anthropologists Lori Cormier, Ph.D., Sharyn Jones, Ph.D., and Greg Mumford, Ph.D.

May 22, 2009
Media Contact:
Gail Short
205-934-8931
gshort@uab.edu