Cat Island, The Bahamas
In January 2013, nine Eckerd anthropology majors participated in an archaeological field project on Cat Island under the direction of Prof. Allan Meyers. Located on the eastern edge of the Bahamian archipelago, Cat Island was once the home to cotton plantations established after the American Revolution by colonists who were loyal to the British Crown. The student research team undertook a mapping survey at Golden Grove, a ruined plantation dating to 1790 at the southern end of the island. The survey focused on generating a comprehensive site plan of the limestone architectural and landscape ruins, including the old manor house, work buildings, and slave quarters. The project was conducted under the auspices of the Antiquities Corporation, the principal heritage management agency of the Bahamian government.
Investigations at Golden Grove have have revealed one of the most remarkable archives of Bahamian ship graffiti, images of period sailing vessels that were etched into the stucco exteriors of plantation buildings. Generally associated with people of African heritage, such ship graffiti are unique to the Caribbean region. Their exact meaning is still unknown. Students documented over 100 ship images at Golden Grove during the winter term project. In the video below, Rebecca Perez ’15 creates a rubbing of sailing ship depicted on a column.
Investigations at Golden Grove from Eckerd College on Vimeo.
Mary Pellegrino ’09 and Kyle Peters '09 participated in a mapping survey of Hacienda Dolores Ake, a 19th-century plantation in central Yucatan. The survey focused on a small ruined village where hacienda laborers once lived. The project explored village layout and design elements, as well as the characteristics of more than 80 elliptical Maya dwellings within it. The research undertaken by the anthropology majors has improved our understanding of the material conditions that shaped the experiences of rural hacienda laborers in Yucatan before the Mexican Revolution.
Sarah Levithol '08, now a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University, conducted a mapping survey of Hacienda Xucú (pronounced Shoo-KOO). The 19th-century plantation site is southeast of Merida, Yucatan's state capital. Her survey focused on the village quarters where plantation workers had lived before its abandonment. Sarah's senior thesis at Eckerd explored plantation social organization as reflected in the frequency, size, and placement of dwellings. Drawing on her fieldwork experience in Yucatan, Sarah co-authored an article that was published in the Winter 2008 issue of the Journal of Field Archaeology
Ethnoarchaeology & Geochemistry
Whitney Neugebauer '09, an anthropology and geology double major who is now in graduate school at the University of Washington, conducted a study of soil chemistry patterns around a recently abandoned house site near the Hacienda Tabi Reserve. With the assistance of local translators, Whitney collected ethnographic information from the Maya-speaking former inhabitants of the site. She then mapped the site and collected soil samples across the floors of what were once a thatched roof Maya house and kitchen. She analyzed the soil samples in a field lab for key chemical signatures. Her senior thesis compared the ethnographic information with the resulting chemical concentrations in and around the house and kitchen. In doings so, the thesis tested a model of soil chemistry that is used by scientists studying more ancient Maya archaeological sites.