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MSU leading archaeological dig at former Lorman plantation



Mississippi State University archaeology
Mississippi State University (Credit: Megan Bean /MSU)

Mississippi State University will lead an archaeological excavation of Prospect Hill, a former 5,000-acre plantation in Jefferson County, June 18-28 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in collaboration with the Archaeological Conservancy and descendent communities.

At Prospect Hill, near the present-day town of Lorman, approximately 300 formerly enslaved African Americans were sent to a Liberian colony in Western Africa known as “Mississippi-in-Africa” during the 1800s. The plantation owner, Isaac Ross and other major planters had co-founded the Mississippi chapter of the American Colonization Society with that in mind. When he died, his will stipulated his slaves would be freed and that the sale of his plantation would fund their move to Liberia.

The excavation of this site will be led by Shawn Lambert, an assistant professor in the department of anthropology & middle eastern cultures at Mississippi State University. Andrew Whitaker, a cultural anthropologist, will be assisting with the project as well. The organization is requesting that people arrive on June 19 to allow time for preparations.

“I think this is going to be fun and informative,” Lambert said to Mississippi Today. “I think we all will learn a lot together.

“We would like to find any notable features, cultural material, or artifacts that they have left behind so that we can get a better understanding of the history there.”

“We hope at the end of this, to take the materials we find and combine material culture with the documentary that the archaeological conservancy developed of Prospect Hill, with the voices of the descendant communities in Liberia. And, eventually put up an interactive, collaborative exhibition at a museum or at one of the museums at Mississippi State University.”

For more information on how to be involved, contact Lambert at or Andrew Whitaker at

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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