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Landscape Legacies of Sugarcane Monoculture at Betty’s Hope Plantation, Antigua, West Indies

Author(s): Suzanna M. Pratt

Year: 2016

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The historic sugarcane industry transformed Caribbean societies, economies, and environments. This research explores the landscape legacies left by long-term sugarcane monoculture at Betty’s Hope Plantation on the eastern Caribbean island of Antigua, which was dedicated to sugarcane monoculture from the mid-1600s until independence in 1981. The study creates a simulation of crop yields using the USDA’s Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator, which is then evaluated using records of historical crop yields extrapolated from historical documentation of crop production and geoarchaeological analyses of historical and contemporary landscape change. Findings suggest that parts of Betty’s Hope have degraded due to sugarcane monoculture, but other degradation may be due to the cessation of commercial agriculture, when human investment in the landscape ended. These results suggest that current erosion and degradation problems may not be attributed to intensive monoculture alone, but are part of a complex mosaic of human-environmental interactions including abandonment of anthropogenic landscapes.

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Landscape Legacies of Sugarcane Monoculture at Betty’s Hope Plantation, Antigua, West Indies. Suzanna M. Pratt. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434433)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 365

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