Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Marie Danforth

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Edwin Jackson

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Amy Young

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


The Moran site (22HR511) in Biloxi, Mississippi, dates from 1719 to 1723 and is the earliest known French Colonial cemetery in the United States. Historical records suggest that those interred likely represent immigrants from Western Europe as well as Africa who were relocated in an effort to colonize the Louisiana Territory. Given the variety of cultural backgrounds at the site, an ancestral analysis of the 25 individuals uncovered has been conducted. Traditional markers such as cranial and tooth morphology and metrics, and enamel composition, were evaluated in all individuals, and DNA was analyzed in five. Stable isotope levels were also assessed to reconstruct diet.

The sample consists of two infants, 21 males and three female adults aged 18 to 45. Results support that most individuals are of European ancestry with strong consensus among those markers employed. Cranial morphology and osteometrics did suggest the presence of two Africans and one possible African. One of these individuals was found with a rosary; the only grave good recovered which leads to the conclusion that slaves were more than likely being converted to Christianity. Thus, data gained from osteological observations, more recently developed analytical techniques, and presence of variant mortuary practices suggest that this French Colonial site exhibited a complex composition of ancestral backgrounds instead of a highly segregated population.