Archaeological Research at Mt. Zion
The historic Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Devon, Pa. has been the site of some ongoing and noteworthy archaeological research
conducted by Dr. Jason Herrmann of the Penn Museum's Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM) along with his colleagues and students,
and in collaboration with Bertha Jackmon, church historian and member of the Society's board of directors.
The most recent activity at the Mt. Zion cemetery, involving Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) —a non-invasive technique ideal for locating buried materials,
including unmarked graves, without disturbing sensitive remains — was described in an article published on 30 September 2021 in the
Main Line Times and Suburban and titled “Students from Penn Digital Archaeology course learn at a Devon African American Cemetery”
(click on the link to view the article – recommended reading!).
Archaeologist, Dr. Jason Herrman at Mt. Zion on January 9, 2021
during the first round of subsurface surveys. He is holding a magnetic gradiometer which measures the strength of the Earth's magnetic field as it is impacted
by things around it.
This important work on documenting African American cemeteries in the greater Philadelphia area is done in collaboration with Pennsylvania Hallowed Grounds (PAHG),
an all-volunteer organization based in Steelton, Pa., whose mission is to preserve and raise awareness of Pennsylvania's African American cemeteries,
and to honor the burial sites of Pennsylvania's United States Colored Troops (USCT), veterans of the African American regiments who fought in the American Civil War.
PAHG supports the conservation and maintenance of cemetery properties, assists in building capacity of cemetery stewards, offers training and youth education,
and interprets and honors the story of the USCT through commemorative events.
Upcoming Related Events
Initial results from the research project will be presented at the 2021 Pennsylvania Hallowed Grounds Annual Meeting, "Reclaiming African-American Cemeteries in your Community",
to be held live via Zoom from 10 AM – 3 PM ET on Saturday. October 23, 2021.
The program will include a keynote presentation by the new director of the Penn Museum, Dr. Christopher Woods, and the project presentation by Dr. Herrmann
and intern Julia Byrnes. Other speakers will speak on advocacy, the role of archaeology and updates from African American cemetery stewards across the Commonwealth.
For more information and free registration, please view the press release, visit the Facebook event page Reclaiming African-American Cemeteries in your Community: PA Hallowed Grounds Annual Meeting 2021, or use the Eventbrite link to register and view the event agenda.
At another related virtual event sponsored by The State Museum of Pennsylvania, PAHG Chair Barbara Barksdale is scheduled to speak at 9:30 AM. The online event is titled
“Hidden Stories: Uncovering African American History Through Archaeology and Community Engagement”
and will be held on Saturday, October 30, 2021, 9 AM – 5 PM ET. For more information and free registration, please visit the