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Finding the “Best Clays”: A Geoarchaeological Approach toward Understanding Redware Production in Colonial Barbados

Author(s): Madeleine Gunter

Year: 2014

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Summary

Through much of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, enslaved African and poor white potters produced redware vessels in eastern parishes across the British Caribbean Island of Barbados. While potters predominantly catered to the burgeoning Barbadian sugar industry, they also produced domestic vessel forms that emerged as key fixtures in local markets. Despite their economic impact, Barbadian potters are archaeologically invisible, largely because the utilitarian wares they produced are nearly identical to European-made vessels. Siedow’s (2010, 2011) Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) studies of Scotland District wares, however, suggest that radiolaria, a holoplanktonic protozoa also found in local clay deposits, may serve as a diagnostic marker of at least some Barbadian-made earthenwares. Building on Siedow’s work, this project identifies, maps, and characterizes the ‘raw’ clays used by Scotland District potters, with the goal of comparing their radiolarian ‘signature’ with that of associated redware assemblages.These analyses are an important next step towards understanding the social and economic lifeways of Barbadian potters.


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Finding the “Best Clays”: A Geoarchaeological Approach toward Understanding Redware Production in Colonial Barbados. Madeleine Gunter. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437431)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): POS-99,2

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