Historic Church in Devon Serves as Learning Site for Archeology Students

students in a cemetery
Image via Mt. Zion AME.
Bertha Jackmon discusses the headstone of Civil War soldier Sgt. Isaac Hall.

A cemetery at Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Devon recently served as a learning space for archeology students. The Main Line Times & Suburban unearthed the story of its use by the University of Pennsylvania’s Introduction to Digital Archaeology class.

Dr. Jason Herrmann, of the Penn Museum’s Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials, guided students in exercises of digital field mapping. They collected data using Ground Penetrating Radar, a noninvasive way to locate buried materials such as unmarked graves.

Founded in 1849, Mt. Zion AME is the Main Line’s first recorded African American congregation of any denomination. It is also the Philadelphia region’s oldest continuously operating African Methodist Episcopal Church.

But even with the church’s rich history, some burial locations and other key elements of the cemetery may have been lost.

In fact, as students surveyed the cemetery, several interesting readings appeared in unmarked areas. Students and their instructor will continue to investigate these sites and submit a report to the church at the end of the term.

Read more about the educational potential of Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Main Line Times & Suburban.

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