Rowan University Archaeology Students Restore Historic Hopewell Cemetery

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When talking about New Jersey history, people mention battlefields, buildings and memorials. Cemeteries rarely come to mind; but, New Jersey is full of historic cemeteries that offer records of place

When talking about New Jersey history, people mention battlefields, buildings and memorials. Cemeteries rarely come to mind; but, New Jersey is full of historic cemeteries that offer records of places, events and especially people that have helped shape our state?s cultural heritage. Unfortunately, many of New Jersey?s oldest cemeteries may disappear.

Not wanting this to happen, Rowan University archaeology professor Maria Rosado applied for and received a grant for her and her archaeology students to restore the Old Baptist Graveyard in Lower Hopewell Township. A registered historic landmark, the cemetery serves as the final resting place for Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers and officers as well as the first white person born in the vicinity of Hopewell Township.

According to Rosado, cemeteries are often severely affected by the physical ravages of time, such as wind, water and solar erosion and biological agents of deterioration, such as lichen. Many cemeteries have been neglected for a variety of reasons and are heavily affected by looting, human carelessness, construction and pollution, all the product of human behavior.

<+>The Old Baptist Graveyard is a good example of a significant historical site being affected by the ravages of time, biological agents and human behavior,<+> said Rosado. <+>The purpose of this project is threefold: to conduct a thorough documentation of the cemetery, determine state of preservation and apply appropriate conservation protocols to rescue the cemetery from continued destruction.<+>

The restoration will include documentation of the cemetery, photographing and registering the names and dates on the tombstones, developing conservation efforts and working with Rowan University biology professors Pat Mosto and Terry O?Brien to clean the headstones.

Student Skylar Harris from Marmora finds the research particularly fulfilling. <+>Since I plan to go into the field of conservation, this project is interesting to me in that it aims to record and conserve the historical record of the site,<+> she said. <+>I also hope that by working on this project I will gain the experience and publishing credentials needed to apply to graduate school.<+>

The research, which began in September, will be completed in the summer of 2002.

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