|Location:||Mona Estate, Kingston, Jamaica|
|Excavator(s):||Jillian Galle, Ivor Conolley, DAACS staff and UWI, Mona archaeological field school students.|
|Dates excavated:||May-June 2011.|
Of the three neighboring sugar estates, Mona, Hope, and Papine, nestled into the foothills of Long Mountain and hugging the edges of the Liguanea Plain, the Mona Estate had the most staying power. It was the last active sugar plantation in St. Andrews Parish, with 1908 recorded as the last year of sugar production. In the 18th century, Mona had an impressive start. Its massive cut limestone and brick sugar works date to the late 1750s, where the still house or distillery and rum storehouse still carries the capstone with the date of 1759. Mona Estate shared an equally impressive limestone and brick aqueduct with the Papine and Hope Estates that carried water from the Hope River to the sugar mills of each plantation. By the mid-20th century, Mona sugar works lay mostly in ruins. The Bookkeeper’s house remains standing and serves as the UWI Mona Archaeology Laboratory today. The other works buildings are in ruins on the campus.
The Mona Estate appears to have had at least two great houses. One map, dated 1785 and commissioned by James Wildman, owner of the neighboring Papine Estate, shows two Mona Great Houses: one a mile west of the Mona works and another south of the works in an area now called College Common, a neighborhood of faculty housing for the University of the West Indies, Mona. Until 2011, when the UWI Mona Archaeological Field School and DAACS began its fourth year of collaborative field work, the exact location of the Mona Great House in College Common was unknown.
In mid-May 2011, the DAACS-UWI crew identified the likely site of the early Mona Great House during a walking survey. Shovel test pit survey commenced shortly thereafter. One hundred thirty-six shovel test pits were excavated over 5,376 square meters. Several 18th-century brick and limestone architectural features were identified on the surface, including a well, the exposed foundation of a rectangular flanker or outbuilding, fragments of brick-in-course likely associated with a matching flanker to the north, and foundation fragments likely associated with the Great House itself. Recovered artifacts reveal significant investment in costly imported goods such as the most current and expensive ceramic and glass tablewares. Large quantities of locally-produced coarse earthenwares and tobacco pipes surrounding the flankers and distributed south and west behind the Great House suggest that a substantial number of enslaved laborers also likely lived and worked at the Great House complex.
The Mona Great House, located in College Common, was likely constructed to house Philip Pinnock and his wife Grace, both of whom purchased the estate in 1757. Pinnock was the first owner to invest real cash into the estate, and the cut stone aqueduct and Mona works buildings likely date to his tenure. The Mona village was also likely established at the same time, if not slightly before construction of the works.
Around 1767, the estate, with its enslaved population and all stock, was sold to John Kennion. A 1774 map of the neighboring Papine Estate shows its southern boundary as “Mona Estate belonging to John Kennion Esquire formerly Philip Pinnock”. However, subsequent estate maps dated 1779, 1785, and 1831, also in the collection of the National Library of Jamaica, were done at the behest of William and Thomas Bond, a London merchant and magistrate respectively, or their heirs.
The 1779 survey map of the Mona Estate shows the College Common Mona Great House site in detail: a large great house with possible portico oriented to the northeast and two flankers or dependencies located directly behind the great house. This survey map was essential to identifying the surface features at the College Common site.
The Bond estate owned Mona throughout the period of greatest change in Jamaica’s sugar industry – beginning in a period of relative prosperity during the late-18th century, all the way through the abolition of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, the failed period of amelioration and the coming of abolition of slavery in 1834 and emancipation in 1838. It may have been the further blows to the industry with the end of protective duties at mid-century that finally led to the sale of Mona Estate to Louis Verley, a Jamaican planter and merchant. Between the 1860s and the 1890s, Verley purchased Mona, Latimer Pen, Papine and Hermitage Pen, consolidating holdings of more than 2,600 acres. Mona’s acreage was just around 1,000 acres.
Excavation history, procedure, and methods
Interest in locating and surveying the College Common Mona Great House site began in earnest in January 2008, shortly after archaeological field work at the Papine Village commenced. Dr. Suzanne Francis-Brown, author of the seminal work on the history of the UWI Mona campus (2004), toured Jillian Galle and Leslie Cooper through College Common, where she showed them an early cut limestone and brick bridge over the August Town Gully. Cooper took several GPS readings at the bridge and around College Common and used these points to rectify a modern map with the 1825 plat showing the bridge and the Mona Great House. Over the years Francis-Brown kept urging DAACS to consider work at the Great House site and was a driving force in turning our attention to the site.
In late 2010, Ivor Conolley and Galle decided that the focus of the 2011 UWI Mona Archaeology Field School should be on finding and surveying the Mona Great House site in College Common. Cooper’s 2008 map was essential to knowing where to begin looking for the site. Prior to the start of field school, Conolley and DAACS staff, including Francis-Brown who now works for DAACS as a research historian and excavator, field walked the house lots and open spaces between College Common Road and Long Mountain Road. We quickly found the foundation of an early well in Dr. Ron Young’s yard. Further investigation of the area revealed visible remains of a rectangular foundation approximately 3-by-9 meters. The size suggested it might be one of the dependencies drawn on the 1779 plat. Also visible were bits of brick and limestone foundation elsewhere in the yard.
The Youngs generously granted permission for the field school to begin work in their yard just a few short days after our request. DAACS established an UTM grid over the site using a total station and GPS. STPs were placed six meters apart on alphanumeric transects across the site, which extends beyond the Young’s house lot into surrounding yards.
Between May 16 and 27 and again between June 13 and 17, 2011 DAACS staff and field school students excavated 136 shovel test pits. Work was also begun on two 1-x-1 meter units, placed over a fragment of what is likely one segment of the great house’s foundation. These units quickly revealed a complex set of architectural features which only more time, and a larger area excavation, could puzzle out. As a result, we recorded and closed the units in anticipation of future field seasons. Exposed architectural features were mapped with a total station and are included on the site map.
All artifacts from the Mona Great House excavations were exported to the DAACS laboratory at Monticello in Virginia for analysis and digitization. These artifacts were returned to UWI Mona in September 2011 and are currently curated by the Department of History and Archaeology
The Great House Survey is part of the DAACS Caribbean Initiative (DCI), a large-scale, internationally collaborative initiative to document archaeologically through survey, excavation, and collections analysis, the trajectories of change in slave lifeways on the north and south coasts of Jamaica and on the small islands of Nevis and St. Kitts during the 18th and 19th centuries. DCI’s primary method for understanding change in slave lifeways is use of systematic shovel-test-pit survey to document change in the material record over time and space. The Mona Great House survey is modeled on other successful DCI shovel-test-pit surveys on the south and north coasts of Jamaica and on Nevis and St. Kitts.
Summary of research and analysis
Over 3,400 artifacts were recovered from the Mona Great House site. This site contained a much higher concentration of high-style and costly goods than the Mona and Papine Villages, including a ceramic tableware assemblage comprised primarily of White Salt Glaze, Delft, and Chinese Porcelain sherds. Leaded glass stemware and drinking glasses also suggest significant investment in costly dining rituals. Seventeen fragments of lead window came and window glass point to substantial great house-style architecture.
The artifact assemblage also revealed a glimpse into the lives of the enslaved domestic laborers. Locally-produced coarse earthenwares dominated the entire ceramic assemblage and cluster southwest of the two flankers. One hundred seventy-four fragments of tobacco pipes—both imported and locally produced—also spread away from Great House and likely represent inhabitants of both the great house and surrounding dependencies. Website users can access all of the artifact and context data by using the Query the Database modules.
Distribution maps for a host of artifact types demonstrate that all major artifact concentrations cluster to the west and southwest of the two flankers. The one exception is pearlware, the latest ceramic ware type found at the site in any quantity. It distributed in a donut-like array around the southeast flanker. That flanker is the best exposed foundation, with three sides of the foundation fully visible on the surface. Oral history from residents at the site in the 1960s describe even more ruins of this structure, as well as being able to see what was likely the southern foundation of the great house, which is now under a berm of sediment. The pearlware distribution may suggest that the southern flanker was occupied the longest, although this tentative conclusion would take additional excavation to confirm.
Finally, correspondence analysis (CA) of the Mona Great House ceramics assemblage resulted in two phases for the site. Phase 1 and Phase 2 have MCDs of 1763 and 1768 respectively. Two other measures that are less sensitive to excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might introduce a small amount of anomalously late material into an assemblage were used and suggest that Phase 1 and Phase 2 date from virtually the same time period. The nearly identical dates for the two phases suggests that the CA, while capturing a mild temporal trend, likely represents social differences between the great house and the surrounding dependencies. Please see the DAACS Chronology Page for additional information on the great House chronology.
Jillian E. Galle with contributions on the historical record from Suzanne Francis-Brown
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery and the University of the West Indies, Mona
Things you need to know about the Mona Great House site before using the data
- Field measurements are in meters and centimeters.
- All excavated sediment was passed through 1/4 inch mesh.
- Shovel-test-pits are on the UTM grid system.
- 187 shovel-test-pits were excavated at the Mona Great House during the 2011 excavation season.
- An alphanumeric system was established for naming STPs that combine the Area, the Transect Letter, and the STP number. The Mona Great House site was divided into two areas, Area 2 and Area 3. Area 1 is located at the Mona Village site. Transects were labeled alphabetically across the site. STPs were numbered consecutively within each transect. As a result, STP context numbers follow this format: 3-J-01, which translates into Pit 1, on Transect J, in Area 3.
- In the DAACS database, the Mona Great House site is designated as Project “1219”. Artifact ID numbers for artifacts associated with the Great House site therefore begin with the 1219 prefix.
- Architectural and landscape features including terraces, roads, and cisterns, were selectively mapped with a total station. The dense foliage along fence lines made it difficult to map some landscape features in a systematic fashion; those represented on the site map are features that could be easily mapped with the total station and limited clearing.
The University of the West Indies Mona and The DAACS Caribbean Initiative
The UWI, Mona Department of History and Archaeology has facilitated DAACS’s research in Jamaica since 2005, when DAACS staff began work analyzing Barry Higman’s Montpelier Plantation Archaeological Collections, which are curated by the UWI Archaeology Laboratory. Dr. Swithin Wilmot, then Chair of the Department of History and Archaeology, welcomed the DAACS project and helped us find on-campus housing for our five months of work in Kingston. Dr. Philip Allsworth Jones, then Lecturer in Archaeology, welcomed DAACS archaeologists and included us in the laboratory’s events. Galle taught H28A for Dr. Jones in Spring 2006, while conducting analysis of the Montpelier collections with Leslie Cooper and Henry Sharp.
In May 2007, Galle taught a Field School in Historical Archaeology at Stewart Castle, on the north coast of Jamaica, for The University of Virginia. Although not directly affiliated with UWI Mona, DAACS offered paid internships and scholarships for UWI, Mona History and Archaeology undergraduates. Four students attended the field school as UVA students and received academic credit for their participation. Another four UWI students received internships with the project. The Reed Foundation generously provided funds for these students and interns through a grant made to DAACS.
A similar model was followed in 2008, when Galle and Neiman ran an eight-week field project on Nevis and St. Kitts. They once again received funding from The Reed Foundation to bring UWI Mona graduate and undergraduate students to Nevis for a three-week internship. Seven UWI Mona interns, three graduate students and four undergraduate students, participated in the program.
In 2008 DAACS began a more directly collaborative program with UWI Mona by helping run the annual UWI Mona Archaeological Field School. Dr. Sabrina Rampersad had recently been hired as lecturer in Archaeology upon Allsworth-Jone’s retirement. Dr.Rampersad welcomed DAACS’s interest in working at Papine and Mona Villages and generously agreed to work with DAACS to design an archaeological field school program that offered experience in survey and unit excavation, as well as laboratory methods and digital technology such as the use of total stations and GPS in the field. DAACS and Dr. Rampersad worked together in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In 2011, Galle and Ivor Conolley, a PhD. candidate in the UWI Mona Department of History and Archaeology, co-directed the 2011 H28A Archaeological Field School. Dr. Rampersad left UWI Mona in May 2010 to take a position at UWI Cave Hill and Mr. Conolleyserved as lecturer for the 2010/2011 field school. Galle and Conolley currently hold a three-year permit for work at the Mona andPapine Estates.
DAACS staff is deeply grateful for the help and support of UWI Mona’s Department of History and Archaeology and the Principal’s Office. We look forward to continuing the UWI Mona/DAACS collaboration in future years.
The work at the Mona Great House was supported by the DAACS Endowment and the University of the West Indies, Mona Department of History and Archaeology (http://myspot.mona.uwi.edu/history/).
None of this field work would have been possible without the consistent, engaged support of the University of the West Indies, Mona Principal’s Office and the Department of History and Archaeology. Special thanks goes to Professor Gordon Shirley, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Mona Campus, for granting permission to the UWI-DAACS archaeological excavations at the Papine and Mona Villages and the Mona Great House. Professor Swithin Wilmot, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, Professor Kathleen Monteith, Chair, Department of History and Archaeology, Professor Waibinte Wariboko, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, Dr. James Robertson and many others in the Department of History and Archaeology have demonstrated a sustained interest in, and support, of the fieldwork since the beginning. We are ever grateful for their support and friendship.
The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) supported the fieldwork through excavation and export permits. Mr. Dorrick Gray and his staff were enthusiastic volunteers and engaged visitors throughout the field seasons.
Jillian Galle and Ivor Conolley co-directed excavations at the Mona Great House in 2011. Dr. Suzanne Francis-Brown provided invaluable guidance in finding the Mona Great House location, through her thorough plat research and many explorations in College Commons prior to our field work.
The short but intensely productive field seasons would not have been possible without our invaluable DAACS crew: Lynsey Bates (2008-2011), Suzanne Francis Brown (2009-2011), Ivor Conolley (2008-2011), Leslie Cooper (2008-2011), Sarah Corker (2008), Krystle Edwards (2009-2011), Christopher Graham (2011), Clive Grey (2009-2011), Karen Hutchins (2008-2010), Brian McCray (2008-2010), Chris Mundy (2008), Fraser Neiman (2009-2010), Rim Patterson (2009-2011), Karen Spence (2008-2011) and Derek Wheeler (2008).
Leslie Cooper, Ivor Conolley, and Lynsey Bates played particularly significant roles on insuring this field school ran smoothly on all fronts.
Karen Spence supervised all laboratory work in 2011.
Leslie Cooper digitized all of the site maps (.dgns, .pdfs, and .gifs) and artifact distribution maps.
Leslie Cooper, Lynsey Bates, Jesse Sawyer, and Sarah Payton analyzed the contexts and artifacts at the DAACS lab at Monticello.
This research would not have been possible without the energy and commitment of the students in H28A: Methods in Archaeology. These students remained upbeat and engaged in the face of hundreds of pits to dig.
Special thanks and appreciation to the terrific students in the 2011 H28A Field School: Alisha Dyer, John-Marc Evan, Tasheka Jackson, Joseph Sony Jean, Marc Joseph, Crystal-Lee Lawrence, Cammile Louis, Danielle Myer, Leonard Notic, Deanndre Phillip, and Rushelle White.
No archaeological features were excavated at the Mona Great House. Several visible architectural features, including a circular brick well and brick and limestone foundations, were visible on the surface. However, during the May 2011 field season, these architectural features were recorded and measured with a total station but not given feature numbers.
Mona Great House Chronology
DAACS staff aims to produce a seriation-based chronology for each site using the same methods (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details). The majority of sites in the archive are comprised of data derived from deposits within quadrats. On these sites, only assemblages from features or stratigraphic groups with more than five ceramic sherds are included in these ceramic-based seriations. Plowzone contexts do not contribute to a DAACS seriation-based chronology.
The DAACS Caribbean Initiative focuses on exploring large-scale change on slave villages, or areas of where enslaved individuals lived and labored, such as great house compounds, in the Caribbean through the use of shovel-test-pit surveys. For sites with extensive and standardized STP coverage, including the Mona Great House site, a variation on our site-based seriation method is employed. This is because each STP is small (50 cm. in diameter) and provides a small artifact sample. As a result, STP assemblages are rife with sampling error. The samples from individual STPs are so small that variation among STPs is almost entirely statistical noise.
Successfully analyzing STP data, without first aggregating those pits into counting units called sites, requires methods to suppress sampling error. Here we use empirical-Bayesian methods. They offer a smart way to smooth both artifact density surfaces and relative frequencies of artifact types. To understand how these methods work, consider an STP – let’s call it STP 12. The number of artifacts found in STP 12 is likely to be similar to the number of artifacts in the STPs within a certain distance of it. The information contained in the neighborhood of pits is combined with the actual number of artifacts from STP 12 to arrive at an estimate of artifact counts that are less influenced by sampling error (Neiman et al. 2008).
We use two forms of Bayesian smoothing in succession. First, to smooth counts of ceramic ware types in individual STPs, we use a gamma-Poisson model. The gamma-Poisson algorithm smoothes counts of individual artifact types in each STP, based on the counts for that type in nearby STPs. We then use a beta-binomial model to estimate relative frequencies (percentages or proportions) of ceramic ware types in individual STPs. Together two forms of Bayesian smoothing provide smoothed, stable estimates of artifact-type frequency variation in individual STPs, allowing us to see overall site patterning that may otherwise be distorted using raw data (Neiman et al. 2008).
To infer a chronology from the STPs we used correspondence analysis (CA) of ware-type frequencies. We employ CA because with the numbers of STP assemblages in the hundreds, a traditional manual frequency seriation is completely impractical. CA converts a data matrix of ware-type frequencies into a set of scores which estimate the positions of the assemblages on underlying axes or dimension of variation. MCDs are weighted averages of the historically documented manufacturing date for each ware type found in an assemblage, where the weights are the relative frequencies of the types. Measuring the correlation between CA axis scores and MCDs offer an indication of whether the CA scores capture time (Ramenofsky, Neiman and Pierce 2009).
Dating the Mona Great House Site
Bayesian smoothing and CA analysis can be used on STP data from the Mona Great House site. The CA for the Mona Great House resulted in two phases for the site. The nearly identical dates for the two phases suggests that the CA, while capturing a mild temporal trend, likely represents social differences between the Great House and the surrounding dependencies. Phase 1 and Phase 2 have MCDs of 1763 and 1768 respectively. Two other measures, TPQp90 and TPQp95, are less sensitive to excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might introduce a small amount of anomalously late material into an assemblage were used to refine the analysis. The TPQp90 provides a more robust estimate of the site’s TPQ based on the 90th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates for all the artifacts comprising it. TPQp95 provides a robust estimate of the site’s TPQ based on the 95th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates for all the artifacts comprising it. The TPQp95s of 1763 for Phase I and 1762 for Phase 2and suggest that Phase 1 and Phase 2 date from virtually the same time period. TPQp95s of 1763 for Phase 1 and 1762 for Phase 2 suggest that Phase 1 and Phase 2 date from virtually the same time period.
The smoothed ceramic ware-type frequencies fit the expectations of the seriation model, witness the point configuration in the plot of STP assemblages on the first two CA dimensions (Figure 1). The corresponding plot of ware types along CA axis 1 reveals a slight temporal trend but more strongly suggests social distance: high-style, costly imported wares such as Chinese Porcelain and Delft types are in Phase 1 (Figure 2, Figure 3). While Phase 2 also consists of expensive tablewares such as creamware and white salt glaze, this Phase is dominated by coarse earthenwares, many of which were of local manufacture. When the Phase assignments were mapped onto the shovel-test-pits, there was a striking relationship between Phase 1 ceramics and the location of the great house and the location of Phase 2, where coarse earthenwares and slightly later tablewares spread a across the rest of the site, encompassing the flankers and likely other out buildings surrounding the Great House. The location of Phase 2 STPs may also suggest that when the Great House was abandoned, likely sometime in the 1770s, enslaved laborers may have continued to occupy the outlying dependencies for a short period afterwards (Figure 4).
The Mona Great House Harris Matrix
The Harris Matrix summarizes stratigraphic relationships among excavated contexts and groups of contexts that DAACS staff has identified as part of the same stratigraphic group. Stratigraphic groups and contexts are represented as boxes, while lines connecting them represent temporal relationships implied by the site’s stratification, as recorded by the site’s excavators (Harris 1979).
There is no Harris Matrix for the Mona Great House site. Excavation during the 2011 field season consisted primarily of archaeological survey consisted of only shovel-test-pits. Two 1-x-1 meter test units were opened but time constraints did not allow for their completion. A Harris Matrix will be completed once these units are excavated to subsoil.
PDF of site map showing excavated shovel test pit locations.
CAD site plan in .dgn format.
2003 The History of Jamaica Ceramics, 1655-1840. Master's of Philosophy thesis, Department of History and Archaeology, University of West Indies, Mona.
2005 Finding Families within the Communities Enslaved on the Mona and Papine Estates, 1817-1832. In Caribbean Quarterly. Vol 51 (3-4) pp. 94-108.
2004 Mona Past and Present: The History and Heritage of the Mona Campus, University of the West Indies. University of the West Indies Press, Kingston, Jamaica.
Harris, Edward C.
1979 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London, England.
2007 Between Urban and Rural: Organization of Local Pottery in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica. In Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Akinwumi Ogundiran and Toyin Falola, pp. 292-310. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
2008 An Archaeology of Black Markets: Local Ceramics and Economies in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica. Gainsville: The University of Florida Press.
2007 Between Rural and Urban: The Archaeology Of Slavery And Informal Markets In Eighteenth Century Jamaica In Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and African Diaspora. pp. 292- 310. A. Ogundiron and T. Falola (eds.). Bloomington: University of Indiana Press
Neiman, Fraser D., Jillian E. Galle , and Derek Wheeler
2003 Chronological Inference and DAACS. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.