Internally Divided: An Archaeological Investigation of a Jamaican Slave Village, 1766 to 1838

Author(s): Hayden Bassett

Year: 2015


On the large-scale sugar plantations of the Caribbean, enslaved Africans were forced into dense communities on the scale of small urban townships. In many cases, the "slave village" site was allotted by the plantation owner, though the internal composition was largely left to the choices and dynamics of the enslaved community. This poster summarizes the findings from a recent archaeological survey of the slave village of Good Hope estate, an 18th/early-19th-century sugar plantation in northern Jamaica. Home to 400 to 500 enslaved laborers at any one time between 1766 and 1838, the discovery and excavation of the village site provides insights into the internal composition and material lives of a large-scale enslaved community. Data from this shovel-test-pit survey suggests that the conditions of enslavement varied from household to household, as well as the means for manipulating one's position within the hierarchical organization of the enslaved community. Differential access to material goods, relative household location, and the physical modification of the landscape are three ways in which enslaved households negotiated internal socioeconomic divisions, while simultaneously seeking to moderate the conditions of chattel slavery.

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Internally Divided: An Archaeological Investigation of a Jamaican Slave Village, 1766 to 1838. Hayden Bassett. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398156)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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