Land Degradation at Betty’s Hope Historical Plantation, Antigua

Author(s): Suzanna Pratt

Year: 2015


The islands of the British West Indies in the eastern Caribbean have been subjected to continuous sugarcane farming since the 17th century. Current land degradation in Antigua has been attributed to centuries of intensive monocropping. However, recent scholarly discussion of the concept of landesque capital challenges the idea that long-term cultivation is a main driver of landscape degradation. The Betty’s Hope plantation on Antigua operated from 1651-1944 and currently faces problems of land degradation, primarily in the form of soil erosion. This research creates an EPIC (Erosion Potential Impact Calculator) simulation of soil erosion and productivity at the Betty’s Hope plantation, and tests the model with ethnohistorial and geoarchaeological data about the plantation’s crop yield and landscape degradation. This study evaluates the simulated trajectory of landscape change using ethnohistorical information about the plantation’s agricultural yield and a geoarchaeological analysis of the regional landscape. By determining the unique combination of continuous human and environmental changes over the past 300 years, this research contributes to the understanding of how certain practices impact the landscape over time.

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Cite this Record

Land Degradation at Betty’s Hope Historical Plantation, Antigua. Suzanna Pratt. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397501)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;