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Blue Caribbean: A Possible Indigo Plantation, Great Camanoe Island, British Virgin Islands

Author(s): John Chenoweth

Year: 2014

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Summary

Indigo was a major cash crop in the eighteenth-century Caribbean, but it has received less study than sugar. Though similar in many ways, requiring intensive cultivation and dangerous and difficult processing (accomplished by enslaved Africans), indigo required less capital outlay and grew in more marginal soils. Therefore it was a transitional crop and was popular in poorer areas. Indigo also held symbolic, spiritual, and practical importance to many African groups, and its production and use was well-established throughout West Africa before the slave trade. African expertise was applied to Caribbean indigo works and African peoples must have had their own perspectives on this process, which would have continued to hold meaning despite enslavement. This paper will relate initial survey and excavation work planned for summer 2013 on what may be the remains of one indigo plantation located on a small ‘Out Island’ of the British Virgin Islands, Great Camanoe.


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Cite this Record

Blue Caribbean: A Possible Indigo Plantation, Great Camanoe Island, British Virgin Islands. John Chenoweth. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436601)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-6,09

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