Aja Marie Lans

Grant Type

Global Initiatives

Institutional Affiliation

Harvard U.

Grant number

Gr. GIG-17

Approve Date

August 31, 2022

Project Title

Lans, Aja (Harvard U.) "Identifying the Skeletal Remains of Enslaved Individuals in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology"

This project centers on the human remains of 15 members of the African diaspora who may have been enslaved and who are contained within the holdings of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography. These individuals were identified as being alive during the era of enslavement in the United States based on museum records. I (Aja Lans) spent the spring of 2021 assessing the remains and performing archival research on these individuals starting with accession records at the Peabody. I tracked their itineraries up until their arrival in Cambridge in hopes of identifying descendants, communities, or stakeholders and determining the best way to lay these individuals to rest. Funding is now needed to conduct further analyses of some of the remains to determine their age using radiocarbon dating and place of origin via stable isotopic analyses. Four individuals likely have direct descendants which might call for DNA analysis. Finally, travel to university archives in the state of Virginia is also required to further research two individuals.