Archaeology 2013: Asper’s Cemetery

A couple of weeks ago, we posted about our first day of archaeological work in 2013 at Asper’s Cemetery in N. York County.

My students in historical archaeology, as well as Ken Mark and the good folk at the Oakes Museum of Natural History, collaborated at three sites this year. Indeed, a good number of others joined us on one more of these projects: Sammi Lehman (local history extraordinaire), Diane Phillips (owner of the “Stouffer Farm”), the members of the Cemetery Association at Trindle Spring Lutheran Church, and Cathay Synder (Instructor of American History at Messiah College)

Today, I’ll post some of the images from Asper’s Cemetery and next week post our subsequent work at Trindle Spring Lutheran Church and Stouffer Farm.

Asper’s Cemetery is a late 18th century cemetery on state game land that is badly in need of preservation. Our goal there last month was to use Ground-Penetrating Radar (see this video for a visual of how GPR works) to map all the unmarked graves in the cemetery and determine whether it was originally surrounded by a fence. Our longer-term goal is to advise the state game commission about how to protect the cemetery from encroachment from farming, hunting, and groundhogs!

Students from History 305 (Archaeology and Historical Interpretation) will be working on that issue the rest of the semester.

Some of the best photos….

Reading a head stone at the cemetery: Cathay Synder, David Pettegrew, Joeli Banks, Kaylee Schofield, Tim Hampton, and Megan Steves (photo courtesy of Sammi Lehman)

Introduction to the use of our new equipment: David White Leveling Instrument (photo courtesy of Sammi Lehman)

The cemetery was overgrown and was not ready for running the GPR. Students clear a path for transects (photo courtesy of Sammi Lehman)

Using the transit to set up the grid at the cemetery (photo courtesy of Sammi Lehman)

Kaylee Schofield operates the transect, while Ken Mark (in distance) holds the stadia.


David Crout and Tyler Stone excavate the berm on the edge of the field. Bulldozing a generation ago scraped some headstones and footstones from the cemetery to the edge of the field. We found some of these stones in 2011 (photo courtesy of Sammi Lehman)

Thanks to Tom Rudy and Diane Phillip’s neighbor, Bruce Sheaffer, the cemetery and surrounding field were mowed and cleared of weeds.

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Note all the orange flags. After Ken Mark, Cathay Snyder, and I wrapped up our work on Tuesday, Oct. 1, we had documented an extensive area of sub-surface anomalies that could indicate unmarked graves. Students in Historical Archaeology will consider this question later in the semester.

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One thought on “Archaeology 2013: Asper’s Cemetery

  1. Pingback: Service Day 2014 at Asper Burial Ground | History on the Bridge

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