Slave Cemetery in Altavista Uses Radar To Detect Graves

Altavista, VA- It's a part of history they didn't even know existed until about six years ago.AVOCA Museum in Altavista has a slave cemetery on their property.

Friday they used fascinating technology to find out just how many graves they have without disturbing the dirt. By using ground-penetrating radar, you can see down into the earth and determine where soil has been disturbed. AVOCA says mapping out these graves is a way to show respect to those once buried with just a rock marking their lifetime.

Each unmarked stone holds a story. Research shows oval shapes like this may symbolize the eye of the dead watching over us, pink quartz, most likely the grave of a child, and the large stone in the corner, possibly a patriarch of the enslaved community.

The question is, how many graves are there? Executive Director of AVOCA, Michael Hudson says that's why he hired a Geophysicist to use ground-penetrating radar to determine exactly where the slaves were buried.

Michael Hudson says there were three goals Friday: to find the number and location of graves, to determine the orientation of the graves, and to make sure the fence surrounding the cemetery is in the right spot and that there are no graves outside of it. They found close to 30 graves and discovered they are all pointing East.

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