Project Schedule

Dr. Nesta Anderson’s scope of work includes 1) acquisition costs for the Antiquities Permit, 2) costs for hiring students, alumni, and community volunteers to conduct the pedestrian survey, 3) costs for two distinct, yet related, Ground Penetrating Radar investigations, and 4) curation and reporting.

The proposed scope of work of Azzurra Cox includes 1) preliminary research costs, travel, 2) lodging for several days, and 3) concept development for an outdoor museum.

Task 1. Antiquities Permit Acquisition (Summer 2022)
Prior to initiating fieldwork, the Principal Investigator will prepare a research design and obtain an Antiquities Permit from the Texas Historical Commission (THC). The research design will detail the project approach and proposed methods for archaeological pedestrian survey and GPR investigations. Archaeologists will also consult the THC’s online Texas Archeological Sites Atlas to identify previously recorded archaeological sites, surveys, and designated historic properties located within 0.25 kilometers (km) of the project area. This data, along with soils and geology for the project area, will be included in the research design accompanying the permit application.

Task 2. Archaeological Pedestrian Survey (May 17, 2023)
The archaeologists will lead a team of student volunteers in an intensive pedestrian survey of the project area, anticipated to cover 3-5 acres in size. Archaeologists will work with small groups of students to teach them basic pedestrian survey techniques. The field team will walk the project area in transects spaced 30 meters (m) apart, looking for evidence of grave markers, grave tending materials, depressions, or other potential indicators of the presence of burials. These features will be marked with pin flags and then mapped with a handheld Trimble GPS unit. No artifacts will be collected as part of this effort, but grave markers and potential grave tending artifacts will be photographed in the field.

Archaeologists will also work with students to record the Wyatt Chapel Community Cemetery as an archaeological site, which will provide it with a state-registered trinomial. Students will work with archaeologists to record the burial ground in the field as a TexSite form. We will submit contact the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) in Austin to obtain the trinomial.

Task 3. Ground Penetrating Radar Survey (May 18 & 19, 2023)
Based on the results of the pedestrian survey, Dr. Anderson will work with us to select an area for GPR survey to locate burials and/or establish cemetery boundaries. Since it is anticipated the pedestrian survey could expand the potential boundaries of the cemetery, the GPR survey will be limited to a sample of 1 acre. This sample will allow investigators to review data to assess the success of GPR in delineating both boundaries and burial locations before investigating the entirety of an area that could prove to be much larger than expected and may require additional resources. In addition, while previous GPR work appears to have been successful in identifying burials within the cemetery, the current investigation will need to replicate these results. Results can vary according to the amount of moisture in the soil, the type of burial container, whether a burial container is present, whether grave goods are present, and the types of sediments present surrounding the burial. Sampling provides an opportunity to gather additional data at a later date if the work is successful, to obtain additional funding if the cemetery appears to be much larger than expected, and/or to revisit the site with a different methodology if the results are inconclusive.

A suite of geophysical techniques, including a fluxgate gradiometer and GPR will be used to help locate unmarked graves. A grid at the sites will be established using an RTK (sub-centimeter) GNSS system or a Robotic Total Data Station (TDS). All anomalies with archaeological significance will be located on the ground using the RTK GNSS. Given the possible presence of clay soils, using a suite of geophysical instruments is recommended. A magnetometer survey will be added to this survey for no additional charge to help increase the potential of a successful survey.

Gradiometer data will be collected at 0.5 meter traverse interval and 10 hz sample interval resulting in approximately 20 readings per m2. GPR data will be collected using a 400 Mhz dipole antenna at a 0.5 m traverse interval. Non-magnetic markers will mark the corners of the grids and flags will be placed along the top and bottom of the grids. All grid corners will be recorded with a sub-centimeter RTK GNSS.

All data will be processed and filtered to remove extraneous false readings (spikes and drop-outs). Data sets will be processed to enhance the legibility of the target features through statistical manipulation of the recorded data as well as through image processing of the image file output. Benchmarks, corner stakes, and impediments in the collection area (i.e. trees, buildings, areas not collected) will be labelled on output images.

Task 4. Reporting (June 2023)
Following the completion of fieldwork and analysis, PaleoWest will prepare a draft report of findings for submission the Texas Historical Commission (THC). This report will contain the results of the pedestrian survey and GPR. Maps will depict the locations of potential burials, grave markers and grave tending goods located during the survey, and the GPR results will include locations of all anomalies interpreted at possible unmarked graves. The locations of these anomalies will be marked in the field using survey grade RTK GNSS (<1 cm accuracy). Once the report has been approved, PaleoWest will produce the required number of reports and provide them to the appropriate agencies.

Task 5. Curation (July 2023)
Nesta and her team will prepare all documents for curation as required by the Antiquities Permit. After we finish our pedestrian survey and the GPR, Nesta will also transport copies of all paperwork to her Austin office. Upon draft report acceptance at the THC, she will design and publish the final report with Summerlee as well as make suggestions for long-term maintenance to PVAMU.

Table 1. Cost Estimate for Archaeological Study

Task 1. Antiquities Permit Acquisition $680
Task 2. Archaeological Pedestrian Survey $1,640
Task 3. Ground Penetrating Radar Survey $5,760
Task 4. Report $5,260
Task 5. Curation $150
Direct Expenses $1,701

SUBTOTAL (Nesta) – $15,191

Table 2. Cost Estimate, Azzurra Cox

Deliverables–A research booklet including site documentation, preliminary research files, concept sketches, and three concept plans

Task 1 – Preliminary/Pre-Site Visit Research – $600
Task 2 – Site Visit (Two days) includes travel, on-site research, walking tour development, and several meetings with descendants and our students – $1,750
Task 3 – In the development stage, Azzurra will conduct a post-site visit analysis of her data, and she will develop a concept plan – $2,400

Azzurra Cox – SUBTOTAL – $4,750


Perpetual maintenance of the cemetery and systematic study will be the most important immediate outcomes on the project, but landscape architecture and memorialization will be crucial to the perpetual maintenance of the burial ground. In this vision, landscape design becomes a crucial element of not only preservation strategy but also student activism and community development. The transformation of Wyatt Chapel Community Cemetery into a memorial park and outdoor history museum will connect past struggles to the current movement for voting rights. As a site of conscience, it can turn memory into action. By showcasing the different landscapes that developed over the years, and highlighting the sporadic maintenance efforts of students and volunteers, it departs drastically from the preservation strategies at other forlorn and forgotten African American burial grounds, and it offers a more transformative vision of the future, one that more closely aligns with the vision of Dr. Melanye Price, Dean Dorie Gilbert, and President Ruth Simmons for the future of the university.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.