CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Research at a historic African-American cemetery in Charlottesville is entering its final stage this week. Archaeologists are working to uncover just how many individuals are buried at the Daughters of Zion Cemetery.

This week marks what is expected to be the final round of mapping using ground-penetrating radar. Researchers have been using the technology since 2015 to figure out how many people are actually buried there.

Naeva Geophysics is heading up this part of the restoration project at the cemetery off Ridge Street. This is just the latest round of radar surveying on the land that spans more than two acres.


Legislation passed last year that added the Daughters of Zion to the list of historical cemeteries that could receive state funding. That makes this ongoing mapping effort even more critical.

"With a better count, the cemetery is eligible to receive maintenance funds from the state of Virginia and the calculation of the money that's available is based on the number of burials in the cemetery, so a fuller cemetery leads to more money," said Steve Thompson of Rivanna Archaeological Services.

In the last few years, the project has already uncovered dozens of graves and helped the cemetery determine its boundaries to ensure a fence was not built over someone's grave.

The preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery hope to eventually identify the people buried in the unmarked graves and contact relatives who may not have known where their ancestors were laid to rest.