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African-American Archaeology

Newsletter of the African-American Archaeology Network

Number 15, Fall 1995

Thomas R. Wheaton, Editor


An African-Type Burial, Newton Plantation Barbados

Submitted by Jerome S. Handler, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

(Note: This article summarizes a longer paper that has been submitted for possible publication to His-Archaeology ).

The vast majority of the thousands of slaves who perished in Barbados from about 1650 to 1834-38 were buried in unmarked plantation cemeteries.

Although excavated in the early 1970s, Newton cemetery is still the earliest and largest undisturbed plantation slave cemetery vet reported in the New World. The remains of 104 individuals, interred from about 1660 to 1820, were excavated. One of these burials was unique not only to Newton but also to early African cemetery sites in the Americas.

Most mortuary activity took place within a relatively small portion of the cemetery area. This area contained several low mounds. some natural features, others man-made and containing burials. Mound 1 was the largest, approximately 7 1/2 m (22.5 ft) wide and slightly less than 1 m (3 ft) above ground surface. Coral limestone rubble covered the top and edges of the mound, but its core was plain earth; the amount of earth implied more labor than the requirements of simply filling a settled-in grave.

Mound 1 contained only one burial. Reflecting the anonymity of so many early slaves, the individual remains faceless and nameless. Designated Burial 9, the individual had been placed in a prepared subsurface pit, a shallow excavation of about 50 cm. into the underlying limestone bedrock. Fieldnotes recorded the Burial as fitting " into a thin pit, which proved to be too short for the length of the body as the head was jammed against the western edge of the pit and was slightly raised."

Burial 9 was a young adult female, around 20 years of age and perhaps of New World birth. Her possible birth area is based on an analysis of her skeletal lead content. This was more than twice the mean for her age group, as well as that of all Newton skeletons tested for lead absorption in their bones; moreover, although she lacked modified/mutilated teeth -- a virtually certain marker of African birth, she had much higher lead levels than skeletons with this characteristic. Grave goods were absent and she lacked a coffin. Her skeleton was fully articulated with its head facing west. Not only did Mound 1 only contain this solitary burial, but Burial 9 was also the cemetery's only prone burial.

Burial 9 was probably interred during the late 1600s or early 1700s. Why Mound 1 was not used again becomes a relevant question in interpreting Burial 9 because Mound 2, a smaller mound very close to Mound 1, contained about 45 percent of the excavated burials. Mound 2 was repeatedly used over a relatively long period, apparently from the late 1600s through the early 1800s, and grew as new burials were added over the years. The people burying their dead in Mound 2 surely were aware of the neighboring and much larger Mound 1. Yet they avoided using it; a tradition seems to have developed at Newton concerning this large mound and the individual it contained.

Burial 9's unique features as the cemetery's only prone burial and the only one interred in the largest mound suggest that she possessed unusual characteristics or died under special circumstances. The extremely high lead level in her bones suggests that at her death she would have been suffering from the effects of serious lead poisoning, and might have displayed symptoms such as abrupt and unpredictable convulsions or epileptic-type seizures which could have been interpreted as bizarre behavior. One can only speculate on how these behaviors, if they actually occurred, would have affected her fellow slaves and the type of mortuary treatment she was accorded. Whatever was the case, her skeleton displayed no physical evidence of an unusual cause of death, and Burial 9 was probably viewed as having special social characteristics. What might these have been?

The Newton archival sources contain no specific information for an interpretation of Burial 9; for suggestive ideas one must turn to more general data on Barbadian slave culture and the ethnographic/ethnohistorical literature on West African mortuary practices.

Nothing in the Barbados documents helps to interpret the significance of Mound 1, and the limited information discovered on the mounding of graves in West Africa is similarly restrictive. It bears emphasis that I am specifically referring to the construction of earthen mounds, not merely covering the grave with stones, tree branches, or similar materials -- an apparently common practice in West Africa. Scores of ethnographic/ethnohistorical works on West African mortuary practices were consulted, and this literature generally indicates that graves were levelled. The very few references to earthen or "clay" mound constructions indicate diverse functions, but the mounds seem to have been linked to high status people whose communities viewed them positively. In no case were such mounds associated with persons who possessed negatively viewed or unusual characteristics; such an interpretation, however, is suggested by West African data on prone burials.

As indicated above, virtually every Newton burial was in an extended supine position, a common position in West Africa as were flexed and extended lateral burials; all three positions are regularly reported in the literature. Information on prone positions, however. has been far more difficult to obtain.

The many publications sampled on West African ethnography /ethnohistory yielded only a very few specific references to prone burials; in each case the person was considered to have socially negative traits or had been convicted of witchcraft, a criminal offense in all West African societies. One illustrationis the following: an English resident of Sierra Leone during the late 1780s described the execution of a convicted witch among the Temne (or Timne) and Bulum. He was forced to dig his own grave and stand at "the edge of the foot of it, with his face towards it"; he was then struck from behind with "a violent blow upon the nape of the neck, which causes him to fall upon his face into the grave; a little loose earth is then thrown upon him, and a sharp stake of hard wood is drove through the expiring delinquent, which pins him to the earth; the grave is then filled up, and his or her name is never after mentioned."

When West African evidence on prone burials is combined with broader mortuary evidence from West Africa that burial practices usually differed for people who had died in special or unusual ways, who possessed unusual physical characteristics or negatively viewed social traits, the case is strengthened for interpreting Burial 9 as a probable witch or some other negatively viewed person with supernatural powers. African witches were often executed for their crimes and received no interment rites; practices regarding the disposition of their corpses varied from culture to culture, ranging from burning to being cast into the bush to burial in a grave. Even if witch burials are not described, it is implied or explicitly indicated that their bodies were disposed of in different ways from those of "normal" people.

Barbadian slaves were relatively free to bury their dead according to their own customs. An interpretation of Burial 9 as a negatively viewed member of the slave community is further reinforced by evidence from Mound 2. People continued to bury their dead in Mound 2 (as well as in non-mound areas of the cemetery) within plain view of Mound 1. Newton's slaves possibly avoided putting new burials in Mound 1 because a tradition was perpetuated that some person with evil supernatural powers was buried there.

Beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery were pervasive features of the world in which slaves lived -- as they were in the West African homelands. Barbadian slaves (as West Africans generally) did not consider as accidental major illness and death; witchcraft, in particular, was frequently invoked to explain these events and witches were despised and feared.

A final point on Burial 9. It was certainly not unique at Newton in its absence of grave goods; that absence alone would not make it a very special case. Grave goods were common in West Africa, but there is absolutely no ethnographic/ethnohistorical evidence that such goods were interred with persons who their communities viewed negatively.

Thus, mortuary evidence on Burial 9 (its solitary location in Mound 1, prone position, body forced into a grave pit that was too small, absence of grave goods, and the possible behavioral associated with severe lead poisoning) combined with West African mortuary data on the treatment of witches or other despised/feared persons and slave beliefs concerning evil magic leads to an interpretation of Burial 9 as a witch or sorceress -- in any case, someone who, following African custom, was feared or socially ostracized because she was a vehicle for supernatural contagion.

The Evolution of the Study of African Culture in America

Submitted by John P. McCarthy, IMA Consulting, Inc.

While African-American culture is now generally recognized by the scholarly community as a distinct cultural entity which formed from the unprecedented sociocultural interaction of peoples from three continents, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, such was not always the case. It was widely held, even into the 1960s, that the forced importation of Africans into the Americas had resulted in the loss of all aspects of Africans' own culture (e.g. Elkins 1963; Silberman 1964).

The implications of this perspective were, and continue to he, considerable. The past is a social construct (reconstruction) upon which critical aspects of ideology and national policy are implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, based (Silberman 1989). These can include patterns of social domination, resistance, and collusion (Bond and Gilliam 1994). What people believe to have been true in the past has great influence on what they believe to be true and allow to happen in the present. Further, a people without a past that they remember, or without a written history, are more easily looked upon as commodities or tools to be used and exploited (see Wolf 1982 for an extended discussion of this point). In the case of Africans brought to the Americas via the slave trade, the processes of "seasoning" and terms of subsequent enslavement seemed to have eradicated their African past. As a result of these, and other issues too complex to address in this brief essay, the study of African-American history and culture has been, and continues to be, politically charged to a considerable extent. This essay briefly recounts the evolution of the study of African culture in America in the hope that it will provide a clearer context for African-American archaeology.

The modern study of African-American culture developed around the Herskovits-Frazier Debate. Melville Herskovits' (1990) pioneering study, the Myth of the Negro Past, first published in 1941, emphasized the importance of West African cultural carryovers, or survivals, in the formation of African-American culture, primarily relying on data from the Caribbean and continental South America. This work stood in dramatic contrast to the generally prevailing view of the period, as expressed by the work of E. Franklin Frazier (1932a, 1932b, 1939, 1957), that held that African-American culture developed as an imitation of European-American culture. Frazier argued that the experience of slavery had been so devastating as to have completely stripped enslaved Africans of all aspects of their own culture. In his view African-American culture was an imperfect derivative of European-American culture.

While weaknesses in several aspects of Herskovits' study have become evident with the passage of time, research in anthropology, folklore, history, and sociology has tended to support his argument for the continuity of various aspects of African culture in the Americas. Early studies set out, and generally succeeded, in documenting aspects of African culture in African-American religious philosophy and arts. Among these Newbell N. Puckett's (1968), Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro, first published in 1926, Carter G. Woodson's (1968), The African Background, first published in 1936, and W. E. B. DuBois' (1939), Black Folk, Then and Now, are the best known.

Research presented by Guy Johnson (1940), in Drum and Shadows, and Lorenzo Turner (1949), in Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, focused on African cultural retentions in the Georgia Sea Islands and nearby Gullah communities, specifically language. Turner was particularly successful, tracing nearly 5,000 words to west and central African cultures.

Building on that work over 20 years later, a flurry of research resulted in the clear recognition that African influences had contributed to a distinctive African-American culture. Theses studies included Norman Whitten and John Szwed's (1970) anthology, Afro-American Anthropology: Contemporary Perspectives, Peter H. Wood's (1974), Black Majority Negro in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. Lawrence W. Levine's (1977), Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom, and John W. Blassingame's (1979), The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South.

One impact of this extended body of research has been to bring multiple aspects of African heritage into focus in the study of African-American communities. For example, Charles Joyner's (1984), Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community presents an analysis of the folklife ata community level Direct African parallels are documented for a number of activities and linguistic practices.

In a parallel movement, research in the area of African-American material culture has also sought to document and understand the importance of links with Africa. Robert Farris Thompson (1969) in large part pioneered this area of study with his essay exploring African influences in American art. He and Joseph Cornet went on to document aspects of Central African carving and sculpture in the folk art of African Americans living in coastal Georgia and South Carolina in The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds (Thompson and Cornet 1981). Thompson (1983) then carried this research further in Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy. Here Thompson documented the cultural influence of five African cultures, the Kongo, Yoruba, Ejagham, Mande, and Cross River, on aesthetic and metaphysical traditions in America.

More recent work by Thompson (1990) argued that the Kongo culture of Central Africa, as opposed to West Africa cultures, has had central influence in the formation of African-America artistic culture. He cited parallels between African-American creation of cosmograms, patterns of body language and gesture, creation of bottle and plate branches/trees, and practices of adornment and decoration of graves and similar practices in the Kongo to support this proposition.

Two recent, and deservedly influential, studies concerned with African-American material culture warrant particular mention. In the first of these John Michael Vlach (1991) documented the survival and maintenance of African traditions in a wide range of folk arts and crafts, including basketmaking, ironworking, boatbuilding, textiles, musical instruments, grave decoration, gravestone carvings, and architectural forms and the organization of space in By the Work of Their Hands: Studies in Afro-American Folklife. He noted that these venous art forms possess a cultural unity in their African heritage and that stylistic consistency in design and the process of creation (or style and performance) appears to be a major aspect of ethnic integrity in African-American material culture. While some artifacts represent the uninterrupted survival of African traditions, such as coiled grass baskets produced inthe Carolina Low Country, others such as quilts incorporate African themes into an European-American object.

Second, as most readers of this newsletter are aware, Leland Ferguson's(1992) Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650-1800 focused largely on the ceramic earthenwares we term "Colono," or "Colono-Indian," Wares. This unglazed, low-fire earthenware is often recovered on sites associated with enslaved Africans from Virginia and throughout the southeast and is very similar to ceramics made in West Africa. Ferguson applied the concept of "creolization" to describe the cultural interactions of European-descended masters, enslaved Africans, and, to a more limited extent, Native Americans which took place as New and various Old World peoples and cultures came into contact. From this process, Ferguson argued, African Americans formed a unique culture having material and ideological components distinct from that of European-American culture.

In summary, researchers interested in the formation of African-American culture have built upon the work of Melville Herskovits to overcome the view that African-American culture developed as an imperfect imitation of European-American culture. African-American culture is now clearly recognized as a distinct cultural entity. In addition, the material aspects of African-American culture have been recognized as representing important documentation of African culture in America and the processes contributing to the formation of African-American culture.

Acknowledgements:

I would like to thank Clark A. Dobbs, Ann Smart Martin, and Karolyn E. Smardz for their interest in this topic and the thoughtful comments that they provided as this essay developed. Any errors of fact or interpretation are solely the author's responsibility.

References Cited:

Abrahams, Roger D. and John F. Szwed (editors)
1983    After Africa. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Blassingame, John W.
1979    The Slate Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South. Oxford University Press, New York.

Bond, George C. and Angela Gilliam
1994    Introduction. In Social Construction of the Past: Representation as Power, edited by George C. Bond and Angela Gilliam, pp. 1-9. One World Archaeology. Volume 24. Rutledge, New York.

DuBois, W. E. B.
1939    Black Folk, Then and Now Holt, New York.

Elkins, Stanley1963    Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life. Universal Library, New York.

Frazier. E Franklin
1932a    The Free Negro Family. Fisk University Press, Nashville.

1932b    The Negro Family in Chicago. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

1939    The Negro Family in the United States. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

1957    The Negro in the United States. Macmillan Co, New York (revised edition).

Ferguson, Leland
1992    Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650-1800. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.

Herskovits, Melville J.
1990    The Myth of the Negro Past. Beacon Press, Boston (originally published in 1941).

Johnson. Guy
1940    Drum and Shadows. University of Georgia Press, Athens.

Joyner, Charles
1984    Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.

Levine, Laurence
1977    Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom. Oxford University Press, New York.

Puckett, Newbell N.
1968    Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro. Patterson Smith, Montclair, NJ (originally published in 1996).

Silberman, Charles E.
1964    Crisis in Black and White. Vintage Books, New York.

Silberman, Neil A.
1989    Between Past and Present: Archaeology, Ideology, and Nationalism in the Modern Middle East. Henry Holt and Co., New York.

Thompson, Robert F.
1969     African Influences on the Art of the United States. In Black Studies in the University: A Symposium, edited by Armstead L. Robinson, Craig C. Foster and Donald H. Ogilvie, pp. 122-170. Yale University Press, New Haven.

1983    Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy. Random House, New York.

1990    Kongo Influences on African-American Artistic Culture. In Africanisms in American Culture, edited by Joseph E. Holloway, pp. 148-184. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

Thompson, Robert F., and Joseph Cornet
1981    The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds. Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Turner, Lorenzo
1968    Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect. Arno Press, New York (originally published in 1949).

Vlach, John M.
1991    By the Work of Their Hands: Studies in Afro-American Folklife. The University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Whitten, Norman, and John Szwed (editors)
1970    Afro-American Anthropology: Contemporary Perspectives. Free Press, New York.

Wolf, Eric
1982    Europe and the People Without History. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Wood, Peter H.
1974    Black Majority: Negro in Colonial South   Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Woodson, Carter G.
1968    The African Background Outlined. Negro Universities Press, New York.


Check It Out

Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, LSU Press, 1995.

Gwendolyn Hall, consulting research professor at the University of New Orleans and professor of history at Rutgers, offers a fascinating new takeon colonial history, portraying the essential role of Africans in the making of Louisiana. An extensive set of appendices provide raw data on population, inventories, and African survivals.

Africanisms in American Culture, edited by Joseph E. Holloway, Indiana University Press, 1991.

Holloway and a group of distinguished scholars present a strong casefor the survival of distinct Africanisms in the United States up to the present day. The final essay, "The African Heritage of White America," puts forth a strong case for a very high degree of cross-cultural pollination and that much of what we call southern culture is rich in African survivals.

Beyond the Great House, Archaeology at Ashland Belle Helene Plantation, Discovering Louisiana Archaeology vol. 1, Shell Chemical Company in corporation with Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Baton Rouge, n.d.

This is the first in a series of publications making the results of cultural resource management projects available to the public in a well written andvery well illustrated format. Maps, photographs, drawings and a jargon free text make this an entertaining look into the past that will hopefully increase public awareness and support of historic preservation.


Excavations at the Eigelberger Plantation Daufuskie Island South Carolina

Submitted by Chris Espenshade, Brockington and Associates, Inc.

Data recovery excavations are underway in December 1994, at four apparent slave loci on the former Eigelberger Plantation, Daufuskie Island. Mr. Scott Butler and Mr. Chris Espenshade are supervising the excavations by Brockington and Associates, Inc. The test excavations revealed that this plantation was apparently occupied in the early nineteenth century. The main house complex has been lost to bank erosion, but at least four associated loci(suspected slave cabins) remain. The field results to date indicate that at structural features from two earthfast structures are present in one of the loci.

A major research question of the project is why Colonoware is so rare at plantation sites on Daufuskie Island. As delineated below, several factors were identified as possibly influencing the frequency of Colonoware at slave sites. Potential factors include:

Chronology. It has been suggested that Colonoware use decreased through time as inexpensive refined ceramics became popular in the early nineteenth century, and as owners took increased control over their slave populations. In addition, Colonoware can be seen as a frontier solution to high supply costs, a solution which was not necessary on later, more established, plantations.

Control by Planters. It has been argued that planters may have discouraged Africanisms in their slave corps in an effort to stifle rebellion and eliminate cultural identity. Colonoware was an obvious African trait which could be replaced readily by European or American goods.

Wealth of Planter. Even if a plantation included a potter and suitable materials, Colonoware may not have been produced if the planter was sufficiently wealthy to provide refined ceramics to his slaves. The use of "dirt dishes" by slaves may have been considered a reflection on the status of the planter, and well-to-do planters may have rapidly replaced Colonoware with refined ceramics.

Concerns of Health and Hygiene. Colonoware pottery, as an unglazed, low-firedware, was susceptible to absorbing food, thereby making cleaning difficult. In the nineteenth century, there was a movement of increased attention to slave health and living conditions. In this context, planters may have replaced the "dirt dishes" with harder, more sanitary, refined ceramics.

Population Probabilities. The analysis of slave pottery from settlements suggests that there were only one or two contemporaneous potters per community. It is likely that there were communities without trained potters, and that potters may have been removed from communities by death or slave trading. With the end of slave importation in the early nineteenth century, the potential supply of new potters disappeared.

Ceramic Ecology. Even in the event that an African potter was presentin a slave population, that potter could not produce vessels unless she had access to acceptable clay. Slaves were not generally free to roam beyond their home plantations, and it is unlikely that they were allowed to explore the region for clay. It is likely that the lack of appropriate clay resources limited the potential for potting on many plantations.

The present project has chosen to focus on the availability of suitable clays by examining the local ceramic resources. The preliminary field results indicate that suitable clay was present within the site boundaries. A final report is expected by late 1995.

The Newsletter lost two regional editors this year, Chuck Orser and Jerry Handler. Their places have been taken by John McCarthy of IMA Consulting in Minnesota, and by Laurie Wilkie at UC Berkeley. I look forward to getting some really good stuff out them. Remember, that if you have something you think others might find useful, contact your regional editor. Also, sometime next spring, I will send out a list of members. There are too many to include in this issue of the Newsletter.

Association for Living Historical Farms & Agricultural Museums, May 19-23, 196, University of Houston, Houston, Texas. For information contact: Debra Reid, Strecker Museum Complex, Baylor University, P.O. Box 97154, Waco, TX, 817 755 1160, or REIDD@Baylor.edu.

Interpretation, The Journal of Heritage and Environmental Interpretation is a reincarnation of an earlier series of journals published in Great Britain. Interpretation is the new periodical for professionals who work in environmental and heritage interpretation in any of its forms, and for anyone whose interests or course of study lie in this field. A recent issue had articles on multiculturalism and one dealing with the issues, ethics and morality of dealing with trans-Atlantic slavery. To subscribe contact: Alison Maddock. 36 Westhaven Cresent, Aughton, Nr Ormskirk. Lancashire L39 5BW. Great Britain.

Pottery Reproduction Services. Chris Espenshade and Linda Kennedy have begun offering pottery reproduction services for Native American and Colonoware vessels. The two potters are both archaeologists with extensive experience at southeastern slave sites. The available services range from basic vessel form reproductions (using commercial clays) based on sherds or vessel profiles to full replications including site-specific clay collection and pit firing. Samples of their work are soon to go on sale at the Charleston Museum and at the Preservation Shop at Drayton Hall Plantation; the Museum of the Tunica-Biloxi Indians presently utilizing one of their reproductions. The Colonoware reproductions also work as interesting educational items and as gifts. A catalog is planned for 1995, and Mr. Espenshade hopes to have a display at the 1995 SAA meetings. As an aside, the potters note that even large jars can indeed by produced by lump/pinch forming without the use of coiling or slab construction. For further information, please contact Chris Espenshade or Linda Kennedy at 1644 Mill Run Court, Lawrenceville, Georgia, 30245 (770) 995-5508.

Wessyngton Plantation

Submitted by David Babson, Midwestern A rchaeological Research Center

In November of 1994, the Midwestern Archaeological Research Center (MARC)at Illinois State University submitted a report of investigations to the Tennessee Historical Commission. This report, Families and Cabins: Archaeologicaland Historical Research at Wessyngton Plantation, Robertson County, Tennessee, is the final report on two survey and planning grant surveys undertakenby MARC at Wessyngton Plantation in 1991 and 1993. It includes information about the archaeological investigation of three discrete cabin sites anda five-cabin area, occupied from the early nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. It also includes an extensive discussion of African-American genealogy and history, developed from an independent program of oral history, genealogy and research in primary documents underway at Wessyngton Plantation since the 1970s.

Under the terms of the survey and planning grant program, the purpose of this research was to establish the National Register eligibility of the archaeological site. This was amply established by the work described above, and nomination of the site to the National Register is now under consideration. Manuscript copies of the final report are on file at the Tennessee Historical Commission and at the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville. Publication of the report is under consideration, and may be completed in 1996.

Bonny Shore Slave Row

Submitted by Chris Espenshade, Brockington and Associates. Inc.

Ms. Elsie Eubanks, Marian Roberts, and Mr. Chris Espenshade of Brockington and Associates have completed data recovery investigations of the former location of the Bonny Shore slave row, Spring Island. South Carolina. The investigations were sponsored by Spring Island Plantation. The site (38BU791) was first examined through complete site coverage with 5 m (15 ft) interval shovel testing. The shovel testing indicated seven potential cabin locations, although no structural remains were encountered. The data recovery was composed of the excavation of a 4 by 4 m (12 by 12 ft) block in each of the seven loci, followed by machine-assisted stripping. The analysis included zooarchaeological, ethnobotanical and ceramic technological investigations.

Dating of the recovered assemblage indicates that most of the cabins were occupied from circa 1815 through 1840. At least two of the cabins were apparently occupied through 1860. The assemblage was noteworthy for its high frequency of Colonoware, several of which exhibited post-firing marks similar to the cosmograms hypothesized by Ferguson (1991). The detailed technological and stylistic analysis of the Colonoware indicates that the pottery was produced from locally available clay, was made probably by a single potter, and was comprised exclusively of small bowl forms. The zooarchaeological analysis indicated a very low contribution to the diet by wild resources, possibly related to the large numbers of cows and pigs on the fenceless pasture of Spring Island. Copies of the report (Eubanks and Espenshade 1994) are available on request.

Excavation of Two Slave Cabins

Submitted by Chris Espenshade, Brockington and Associates, Inc.

In 1992. Ms. Linda Kennedy, Ms. Marian Roberts, and Mr. Chris Espenshade of Brockington and Associates, Inc. conducted data recovery investigations of two slave cabins at Site 38BU880. The study was sponsored by Indigo Run Plantation. The excavations focused on the structures associated with two tabby chimney remnants. One of the cabin locations was situated in a protected, wooded area, while the second had been severely impacted through plowing and modern nursery activity. A total of 41 2 by 2 m (6 by 6 ft) units were excavated.

The excavation of the least impacted structure revealed several post features and a dirt floor remnant. An earthfast, single pen structure is indicated by the data; the structure measured 19.6 by 16.4 ft) it had a single, gable end tabby chimney which measured 5.0 by 7.5 ft at its base. An interesting aspect of the cabin was the recovery of 25 Archaic through Woodland projectile points and a groundstone adze from the hearth area, suggesting the occupants were collecting Native-American items. A final report should now be available.

The Colleton River Slave Row

Submitted by Chris Espensade, Brockingron and Associates, Inc.

In 1993, Ms. Linda Kennedy, Ms. Marian Roberts, and Mr. Chris Espenshade of Brockington and Associates, Inc. conducted data recovery excavations at the Colleton River slave row, Site 38BU647. The site consists of 14 deteriorated, tabby chimney bases and associated midden from a nineteenth-century slave row. The phased field approach began with complete site coverage through the excavation of 50 by 50 cm shovel tests on a 5 m (15 ft) interval. The shovel test coverage represents the first effort in South Carolina to retrieve significant samples from all areas of a slave row site (not quite the first, ed.). The shovel test data were utilized to select three hose loci for excavation. Occupation span, location within the slave row, and apparent status were considered in selecting the three structures. Nine 2 by 2 m (6 by 6 ft) units were excavated at each structure, and additional units were excavated to examine non-structural features.

Three structural patterns were documented. All three of the excavated cabins had tabby chimneys measuring approximately 2.5 by 6.0 ft) at thebase. The dimensions of three single pen cabins were 13 by 18 ft, 23 by 18 ft, and 16 by 21 ft.

The site is noteworthy for a high frequency of Colonoware vessels, several of which had possible cosmographic markings; the pots were produced by one or two potters using locally available clays. The late use of Colonoware at this site may be related to its role as an isolated slave row. A comparison of the South artifact pattern data from the full site and structure specific coverage indicates the limitations pattern analysis. The pattern from the shovel tests was very similar to the Carolina Slave Pattern, while the structure excavations yielded a pattern similar to the Piedmont Tenant Pattern. The final report is available from Brockington and Associates.

Crooked Island

Submitted by Paul Farnsworth and Laurie Wilkie, Louisiana State University

From June 7 - 30, 1995. the Louisiana State University field school under the direction of Paul Farnsworth and Laurie Wilkie excavated at Marine Farmand Great Hope plantations on Crooked Island in the Bahamas. During thecourse of fieldwork, forty-six meter square units were excavated at Marine Farm and seventy-three meter square units were excavated at Great Hope. In addition, the standing buildings of the plantations were recorded photographically and elevations were drawn, oral histories were collected and the artifacts recovered were identified, cataloged, photographed and illustrated. Both Marine Farm and Great Hope plantations are located on property owned bythe Bahamas National Trust. The research was conducted in cooperation with, and partially funded by, the Bahamas National Trust and with the permission of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. All of the artifacts were deposited with the Bahamas National Trust in Nassau for permanent curation.

Marine Farm was the site of both a plantation complex and a military complex. Six structures, a barracks building, a kitchen. two storage buildings, a guardhouse and a gun battery with five cannons still present, were identified at the military complex. At the plantation portion of the site, four structures were located: the great house; the kitchen; a slave cabin; and a privy building. The privy was located late in the field season, and unfortunately, not test excavated this summer. All of the other structures were tested archaeologically.

Documentary evidence shows that the plantation was first granted to Joseph Hunter in 1791, but during the first two decades of the nineteenth century, it was owned by James Moss, President of the Bahamian House of Assembly. Archaeological evidence suggests that the military buildings were occupied from the early nineteenth century to the 1850s. Artifactual data from the plantation component of the site suggests a slightly earlier occupation from the late eighteenth century, but by the 1830s, however, the plantation buildings appear to have been taken over by the military. As with the military component, there is no evidence of occupation of the site after the midnineteenth century.

Great Hope plantation was first granted to George Gray in 1791, but wassold in 1792 to James Menzies, who became a member of the House of Assembly and Treasurer of the colony. He died in 1815, and the plantation was purchased in 1818 by Henry Moss, nephew of James Moss. Henry and his wife Helen were accused and convicted of the worst case of cruelty to a slave in the Bahamasas a result of an incident which took place in 1826 at Great Hope. Henry Moss owned Great Hope through 1847, based on ongoing documentary research.

The main compound of Great Hope Plantation includes an impressive two story great house, a kitchen, a standing chimney from a slave cabin, a structure known as "the guest house", a hurricane shelter, a stable, a privy, a gun battery and four storage buildings. Each of these buildings was tested archaeologically. Ceramic and glass artifacts indicate that Great Hope Plantation was first occupied in the last decades of the eighteenth century and up until the early twentieth century, a conclusion supported by oral history gathered during the project. Based on its architectural remains, Great Hope was a very prosperous plantation, however, no examples of "status"ceramics were recovered. The lack of these ceramics may represent the nature of trade networks and ceramic availability on the island, one of the major research problems this project is seeking to address.

Numerous examples of ship drawings scratched into the walls are presentat the kitchen and great house of Marine Farm Plantation and at the great house of Great Hope. The carvings were made after the buildings were complete and were etched into the building plaster with a sharp, narrow pointed object. The carvings at both sites demonstrate that the artists have a thorough understanding of ship rigging and sails. In two instances at Marine Farm, even the Union Jack can be seen flying from ships' masts. Single, double and triple massed ships are portrayed. At both sites, the ship carvings are most commonly found on building wails with a sea view. These carvings may have served as some form of recording system, but the purpose for recording the ships remains unclear.

This summer's research represents the first phase of a long-term research program on these sites as the Bahamas National Trust works to open these sites to the public as National Historic Parks. The first archaeological sites to be preserved in this way in the Bahamas.

The Edward Douglass White Historic Site

Submitted by Paul Farnsworth, Louisiana State University

From late April through the month of May, student volunteers from Louisiana State University spent each Saturday carrying out preliminary survey and testing at The Edward Douglass White Historic Site near Thibodaux, Louisiana, under the direction of Laurie Wilkie and Paul Farnsworth. The site is preserved as it was the home of Edward Douglass White who was governor of Louisiana from 1835 to 1839 and subsequently to his son, also Edward Douglass White, who was a justice on The Supreme Court of the United States from 1894 to 1910, and Chief Justice from 1910 until his death in 1921. Justice White is best known for the ruling which established the legality of the "separatebut equal" philosophy that dominated race relations in the South into the 1960s.

The site is located on a parcel that was claimed by Guillaume Arceman in 1803, based on his having occupied the land for ten or more years previously. The land was purchased by E.D. White in 1831 and was developed into a thriving sugar plantation. The White home sits on a parcel owned and preserved by the State of Louisiana, while the plantation's outbuildings, cabins, etc. are believed to have been located on a privately owned, wooded parcel located immediately behind the State's land. The preliminary research included both the State and privately owned property. The research was made possible by a grant from the Friends of the Edward Douglass White State Historic Site. The goals were simply to locate any buildings or archaeological deposits associated with the plantation, and assess their chronology and function.

An area of 16,800 square meters was divided into 20 meter squares and all historic artifacts from the surface were collected. Sixty-tour shovel test pits were then excavated at each corner of the twenty meter squares. Based on the results of the surface collection and the twenty meter shovel testing, twenty-one additional shovel tests spaced at five meter intervals were dug in two areas of artifact concentration and structural indications. In addition to a general scatter of materials across the area studied, and the abovementioned concentrations, several other areas were defined for additional testing. The two areas tested so far correspond with the locations of two houses noted in oral historical information gathered since the conclusion of the current field research.

The artifacts were washed and cataloged at the LSU Archaeology laboratory, and will be curated by the State of Louisiana. Detailed analysis of the artifacts and their distributions is currently in progress, and a report is in preparation. The artifacts reflect the intensive use of the property throughout period of the White's occupation from 1830 to 1921. The presence of a fewer sherds of creamware and significant quantities of pearlware in the area adjacent to the main house suggest that it was first built and occupied during Arceman's ownership. However, as with most Louisiana plantations, eighteenth-century deposits remain elusive. Additional research is planned for 1996 which will explore the deposits located this year in more detail.


Electronic version compiled by Thomas R. Wheaton, New South Associates, Inc.




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2005 African Diaspora Archaeology Network
Please send comments or questions to: cfennell@uiuc.edu
Last updated: April 16, 2005
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