[LMB] OT: ISO knowledge---AKICOTL

Judy R Johnson jrj at fidalgo.net
Fri Oct 16 14:52:37 BST 2009


 From: "Katherine Collett" <kcollett at hamilton.edu>
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 12:50 PM
To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
Subject: Re: [LMB] OT: ISO knowledge---AKICOTL

On Oct 15, 2009, at 7:00 AM, Eric Oppen wrote:
> I'm batting around an idea for a story, but I need to know some 
> things.
> specifically, about moving cemeteries.

As JRJ says, there is probably a lot of regional variation, depending 
on the climate, the soil, the customs, etc. As for re-using grave 
space, it is noticeable in many small villages in England that the 
cemetery is usually several feet above the surrounding ground--the 
hundreds of years of bodies being buried there have raised the ground 
level considerably.


NEW - JRJ>Forgot to mention, in my earlier posting, that I took a summer 
course in Archaeology long ago and helped excavate at La Purisima Mission, 
north of Santa Barbara in California.  We spent most of our time at a 
plague graveyard, having permission from the Catholic Church to excavate, 
and after that the remains would be re-interred elsewhere; don't know the 
details of that.  

But to repeat that it makes a difference what religion manages the 
graveyard in question, here's some background.  The missionary priests in 
the Early California Mission system in effect made slaves of the local 
Indians, using them on vast mission agricultural tracts to grow profitable 
crops for export under the guise of saving their souls.  Due to stressful 
lives and lack of immunity to European diseases, the poor Indians died in 
vast numbers and nearly all went extinct.  When measles or cholera or 
whatever was epidemic, the bodies were often buried without priestly 
supervision.  So careful excavation revealed a fascinating mixture of 
Catholic and pagan burial customs, and you could tell by this if by nothing 
else what area had the first graves and which the last, because toward the 
end the customs were almost purely Indian -- there would be a ring of ocher 
outlining the body shape, and beads and so forth, and the bodies would not 
be "laid out" in the European manner.

Presently, here in Washington State where costal Native Americans have 
large reservations (apparently their populations had better immunity due to 
occasional contact from Asia?), they've made a big thing of insisting that 
their ancestral remains be respected wherever found, and the courts have 
upheld this.  Lots of controversy, sometimes.  Depending on various factors 
(not leaving out an understandable degree of NA vengefulness over past 
wrongs), the remains might be relocated, or the construction might be 
stopped or rerouted.

Entwife Judy

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