Aboriginal Ossuaries in Maryland
Dennis C. Curry
OSSUARIES are communal graves containing the reburied, skeletonized remains of multiple individuals. For more than a century, archeologists have been intrigued by the Native American practice of ossuary burial in the Maryland tidewater region. During this time, investigations have run the gamut from antiquarian curiosity to modern scientific study, although details of much of this work are poorly reported or only found in obscure technical literature. For the first time, Feast of the Dead attempts to compile all of this information in one volume, and examine the data from Maryland's three dozen known ossuaries from an archeological perspective.
In Feast of the Dead (a title derived from the 17th century Huron burial ceremony), Maryland Historical Trust archeologist Dennis C. Curry details the excavated data from each of Maryland's ossuaries, and takes a look at what these unique mortuary features may mean. Clearly reflective of Native American spiritual beliefs, ossuaries also appear to evince native social, political, and status concepts which evolved during the period from roughly A.D. 1400 to the time of European contact.
A valuable research source for archeologists, Feast of the Dead is intended to shed light on Native American burial rituals for the general reader as well. It also serves to help reconstruct the lifeways and belief systems of late prehistoric Algonkian groups in Maryland.
tables, references, glossary, index. $15.00 (softbound).