New South Associates supports a Mortuary Studies Program specialized in examining human burial deposits from both a cultural and biological perspective. This program is committed to providing professional burial recovery, relocation and analysis services while maintaining a high level of respect for the remains and descendant communities. The humanistic approach of New South Associates’ Mortuary Archaeology team entails considerable coordination with descendant communities (including Native American, African-American and Anglo-American groups), landowners, state and federal agencies. New South Associates’ skilled physical anthropologists apply the same analytical techniques used in modern forensic anthropology to address questions of personal and cultural identification among cemetery populations. Our staff has a wide range of specializations and expertise, including work on both historic and prehistoric cemeteries in the American Southeast, Midwest, Plains, Caribbean, Western United States, and Pacific.
The Mortuary Archaeology Program collects osteological and dental data to generate information about past human populations. They record morphological and metric data from complete and fragmentary remains in a standardized format. All human remains are assessed for their potential to yield information. Age, sex, biological ancestry, personal (both biological and cultural) characteristics, and personal identification are determined for all individuals to the extent possible. This assessment focuses on five general areas: inventory, demographic data, epidemiological data, anthropometrics, and individual characteristics. No destructive analytical procedures are used in the skeletal assessment, although samples can be collected, particularly if DNA testing/genetic relatedness is requested.
New South Associates has worked with DNA laboratories on genetic studies to recover information about a burial community, as well as potential descendants. The film “I Remember, I Believe” documents New South Associates recovery and relocation of the Avondale Burial Place including physical anthropology.