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Chitons and Clams, Cash and Carry: an archaeological exploration of the impact of enslaved children’s foraging strategies on 18th-century enslaved households in Jamaica

Author(s): Jillian Galle

Year: 2016

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Summary

Attempts at understanding the economic and social strategies used by enslaved people in the early modern Atlantic World require sophisticated models of human interaction, models that allow archaeologists to precisely investigate the complex behavioral strategies that underlie artifact patterns. Here Optimal Foraging Theory provides the framework for identifying the fishing and foraging activities of enslaved children and adults laboring at the Stewart Castle Estate, an 18th-century Jamaican sugar plantation. Data from the estate’s slave village suggests that a growing reliance on the products of children’s labor, in this case low-ranked shellfish, allowed enslaved households to divert high-ranked fish species to the marketplace, where the proceeds from the sale of these high-ranked fish were used to acquire costly, imported goods. Signaling Theory then provides a framework for understanding the relationship between the discard of fauna remains, shellfish, and non-provisioned costly goods within the village, patterns that suggest how and why enslaved households transformed precious labor and food into consumer goods purchased at local and regional markets.


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Chitons and Clams, Cash and Carry: an archaeological exploration of the impact of enslaved children’s foraging strategies on 18th-century enslaved households in Jamaica. Jillian Galle. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404202)


Keywords


Spatial Coverage

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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America