Grace Turner, PhD

Dr. Grace Turner is the author of Honoring Ancestors in Sacred Space: The Archaeology of an 18th century African Bahamian cemetery in Nassau Bahamas. University Press of Florida: Gainesville, 2017.  

Dr. Turner writes: I am intrigued by archaeology because the interpretation of research findings adds another dimension to what we can learn from written documents, paintings and photographs. I was born in The Bahamas and am one of two Bahamians with a doctorate in archaeology. This book is based on research I did for my doctoral dissertation in historical archaeology in the Department of Anthropology at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. I chose to research this site because its location on the edge of the city of Nassau made it more vulnerable to future development. For me, it was important to excavate the site before any remnants of its earlier histories was obliterated by modern development.

Excavating: Learning About The City’s History

Excavation of this site would also provide an opportunity to learn more about an aspect of the city’s history about which so little was known. The excavation findings were not what I had expected and caused me to re-evaluate what these findings meant. Based on archival documents, this cemetery space was only established in the late 1700s but some materials recovered suggested that the cemetery was in use from a much earlier period. An earlier date for the cemetery also raised the possibility that this cemetery was deliberately established by a black community in the early 1700s. If this were so, that would mean that this was a very unusual find for The Bahamas. This kind of action by black communities may not have been so rare in The Bahamas or elsewhere in the Americas but this is generally not the kind of information that has been passed on about non-wealthy, non-white Bahamian communities in the past.

Dr. Grace Turner’s Book Contributes To The Preservation Of Bahamian History

I felt that such a story would do well to be presented as a book for an audience which especially included Bahamians. Currently there are only a few books on the archaeology of The Bahamas. As a Bahamian, I was particularly proud to be able to add to the existing knowledge of Bahamian history and archaeological heritage.