Archaeology is my activism

“These people performed a critique of a brutal capitalistic enslavement system, and they rejected it completely. They risked everything to live in a more just and equitable way, and they were successful for ten generations.”

The Great Dismal Swamp straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border. From the 1600s to about the American Civil War it was a place of refuge, largely for escaped African and African-American slaves, and an important link in the underground railway.

Archaeologist Dan Sayers has been working in the swamp for more than a decade, and has a written a book on the little-known daily life of the “Maroons“: these “defiant people entirely undermined and left the racist and brutal modern world. They created a social and economic world of their own. This was the civil rights, occupy, and labor movements all rolled into one and made inspiringly manifest for more than two hundred fifty years. I marvel at it every day.”

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