Archaeologists in Delaware unearthed 550 previously unidentified African American graves in a church cemetery.
Prior to the discovery, the cemetery at St. George African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lewes previously only had 82 bodies accounted for on the .61 acre plot of land where the gravesite sits.
According to WBOC, the discovery was made through a project conducted by the Greater Lewes Foundation, Edward Otter Inc., and Horsley Archaeological Prospection LLC and paid for by two residents, Dawnell White and Pam Brown.
Using non-invasive technologies, experts found the graves and some headstones, many of which dated back to as early as 1848 through the most recent being dated back to 1945, the year the cemetery shut down.
“The cemetery was the only place to inter African Americans for about 100 years in Lewes, and that makes it a very significant remaining artifact of the African American life in Lewes,” Mike Rawl, Director of the Greater Lewes Foundation, told the outlet.
Researchers explained that the number of graves discovered is just an estimate, and will be doing further exploration to confirm exact numbers, which are likely to increase.
The foundation will be taking steps to identify the unknown burials and launch a search to potentially locate relatives of those buried at the church.
The discovery of Black burial sites have continued to pop up across the country as historic communities are explored and researchers track down plots of land where Black people were buried. Community-led efforts to preserve the history and get proper burial also continue as discoveries are made.