The South Carolina Institute for Anthropology and Archaeology has received a major collection award in the amount of $192,000 from a National Park Service program known as “Save America’s Treasures.” Sharon Pekrul, Jonathan Leader, and myself are the Princial Investigators on the grant, which will go toward rehabilitating and stabilizing archaeological collections from slave cabin contexts at the Yaughan and Curriboo plantations in the Lowcountry.
These collections, dating from fieldwork in 1979, encompass a large sample of enslaved African and African American households encompassing a period from about 1740 to 1826. They are nationally recognized as containing some of the earliest dated excavated slave house contexts in the Carolinas, and for spanning a critical period of transformation in the Southern economy from colonial to antebellum times. Studies based on these materials were pivotal in historical archaeology for shifting emphasis away from the “Big House” and toward the everyday lives of slaves.
Importantly, these collections hold considerable promise of addressing new research questions concerning slavery that have emerged over the 30 years since the archaeological work was originally conducted. Thus, our collaborative partner in the project, The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS; www.daacs.org), will re-analyze the data and make it freely available to the public. DAACS currently provides highly standardized artifact, contextual, and spatial data from over 40 excavated slave quarter sites throughout the Chesapeake, South Carolina and the Caribbean.
In our partnership with DAACS to curate and analyze the collection to modern standards, a new generation of Americans will be able to significantly advance our historical understanding of slavery in South Carolina and its relationship to slave societies throughout the world.
By Dr. Charles Cobb, Director of The South Carolina Institute for Anthropology and Archaeology
The article below is reprinted from the March 2011 issue of Legacy, the newsletter of SCIAA, with kind permission of Dr. Charles Cobb.