Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology
The discovery of dry stone rock features in the northern hills on the Dutch island of St. Eustatius presented a unique opportunity to investigate an enslaved African environment during the time of enslavement. Abandoned after emancipation, the area has remained virtually undisturbed by eco-tourism, making it an archaeological gem. The intact nature of the sites held potential to add significantly to our understanding of choices enslaved Africans made in slave village design, orientation, and the construction of their dwellings, as well as the labor activities of daily life. In doing so, this investigation attempted to detect whether higher levels of ideological freedom afforded under Dutch colonial rule translated into greater cultural continuity among enslaved communities. Research for this project assessed slave village patterning and spatial orientation in comparison to other slave domestic environments in the Caribbean, United States and West Africa. Historical maps, regional comparisons, structural, feature and spatial comparisons, and an examination of artifact distribution provided essential diagnostic characteristics to determine whether dry stone rock features were associated with a domestic environment. Analysis failed to provide supporting evidence to classify dry stone rock features as former dwellings or part of a domestic village environment, however, the lack of consistency in dry stone rock features across the four sites under investigation when subjected to further scrutiny at individual site locations revealed uniformity associated with inclusion in a broader landscape of labor. Half-constructed walls, extensive terracing, lack of artifacts, and uniformity in size and shape of dry stone rock piles suggest the landscape in the northern hills was likely provision grounds for enslaved populations working on the island. The following thesis is important in setting the groundwork for future investigations to understand how underlying community building principles, like Ubuntu, directed and shaped the landscape enslaved Africans built for themselves in the New World.
Byrd, Deanna Lynn, "In Search of Ubuntu: an Examination of Enslaved African Domestic and Labor Environments on St. Eustatius" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 232.