|Location:||Mona Estate, Kingston, Jamaica|
|Occupation Dates:||1750s through the 1820s.|
|Excavator(s):||Jillian Galle, Sabrina Rampersad, DAACS Staff and UWI, Mona Archaeological Field School|
|Dates excavated:||January 2010.|
In the mid-18th century, three large sugar estates in St. Andrew Parish, Jamaica–Papine, Mona, and Hope–shared boundaries and an impressive cut limestone and brick aqueduct that carried water to sugar mills and cisterns on each estate. In the 19th century, these estates flourished, driven by enslaved labor and the shared water source that powered the mills. By the late-19th century, Papine and Hope were no longer productive sugar plantations; however, the Mona Estate remained the longest running sugar plantation in St. Andrew until its closure in 1908 (Francis-Brown 2004). Today the complex of eighteenth-century buildings that once comprised the Mona Sugar Works lie in ruins on the grounds of the University of West Indies, Mona. The 18th-century bookkeeper’s house is home to UWI’s Archaeology Laboratory. Remnants of the mill, distillery, and trash house are incorporated into a garden associated with the UWI Conference center. Fragments of the aqueduct, running south from the Papine Estate, stand near the works.
Invisible are the houses of nearly 200 enslaved African and Afro-Caribbean laborers whose labor fueled the success of the plantation. Like the Papine Village, enslaved laborers at Mona lived within sight of the Mona Works-including the aqueduct, sugar mill, boiling house, distillery, trash house, bookkeeper’s and overseer’s houses. Several 18th-century plats show the location of the village in relationship to the works as well as to 18th-century roads that are still in use today: Mona Road and Queen’s Way. Unlike the Papine Village, a large portion of the area where the Mona Village once stood was removed by the construction of the UWI Physics Building in the 1960s.
In January 2010, the University of West Indies, Mona Archaeological Field School in collaboration with The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS), initiated a shovel-test-pit survey of the remaining undeveloped land that was once part of the Mona Village. Modeled on DAACS surveys in Jamaica and Nevis and using the exact same methods used at the Papine Village, UWI students and DAACS staff excavated 97 shovel test pits across a 2,452 square meter area. Although the survey was limited to narrow strip of land between a parking lot, Mona Road, and Queen’s Way, the material record of slave life at Mona spanned over four decades and suggests ways in which the village changed during the third and fourth quarters of the 18th century.
Acquired in 1754 by Philip Pinnock, the Mona Sugar Estate was in full operation by 1759, the date inscribed on the keystone of the still house or distillery at the Mona sugar works. Estate maps dating to 1779 and 1831 clearly show the estate village to the west of the works yard, within sight of the overseer’s and bookkeeper’s houses. As described on the Mona Estate background page, the Mona Estate changed hands repeatedly, with at least two Mona Great Houses in existence during the last half of the 18th century. The enslaved laborers at Mona likely felt the impacts of these changes.
The enslaved population living on the Mona Estate is commemorated on a cut stone obelisk that stands within the area shown on estate maps as being the site of the village where they had their homes. Ackee and mango trees, accepted botanical markers for such communities, still dot the location, though much of the area is now under a car park for the Natural Sciences faculty of the University of the West Indies.
The obelisk has, attached, lists of men and women, boys and girls who researchers believe could have been living in the area at the time of emancipation from slavery – the state in which most plantation labourers, imported from Africa or born in Jamaica lived for nearly two centuries (Francis-Brown DATE).
The existing data suggests that the enslaved population at Mona generally numbered between 160 – 190 persons. Statistics for 1817, available from an island-wide Return of Slaves, show two lists totaling 187 persons – 88 men and 99 women, ranging in age between 3 months and 81 years, a little less than two-thirds of them Creole or Jamaican-born, the rest having been brought from Africa before the ending of the trade ten years before. In 1832, the number of enslaved persons was 165.
Archaeological investigation using survey test pits (STPs) was conducted at Mona in 2010, in collaboration between the UWI and DAACS. The aim was to confirm the site of the Mona – and neighbouring Papine – villages and to gain insights into the spatial and temporal extent of the village as well as a glimpse of the material culture of the inhabitants.
Excavation history, procedure and methods
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, Mona Archaeological Field School, began and completed a shovel-test-pit survey of what remains of the Mona Village during the January 2010 field season. Two datums were established at the Mona Village site. We used a total station and Trimble HX GPS to place an UTM grid across the site. All shovel test pits were placed on 6-meter centers using a total station. An alphanumeric system was established for naming STPs that combined the Area, the Transect Letter, and the STP number. The Mona Village was divided into two areas, 1 and 2. Transects were labeled alphabetically across the site. STPs were numbered consecutively within each transect. As a result, STP context numbers follow this format: 1-G-01, which translates into Pit 1, on Transect G, in Area 1.
Together, students and DAACS staff excavated 97 STPs at the Mona Village site. Each STP was 50 centimeter in diameter and these were placed every 6 meters on transects across the village. Sediment from every pit was screened through ¼-inch mesh. Although the pits were not dug stratigraphically, the students worked with DAACS staff to record the stratigraphy of every pit. As a result, every STP context record contains detailed sediment and elevation data for each stratigraphic layer identified. Artifacts recovered were bagged on site. UWI students washed and did preliminary artifact counts prior to exporting the assemblage to the DAACS lab at Monticello. The artifacts were cataloged and digitized at the DAACS lab and returned to the University of the West Indies, Mona archaeology lab, where they are now curated.
The Mona Village 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 Village survey is modeled on other DCI shovel-test-pit surveys on the north and south coasts of Jamaica, and on Nevis and St. Kitts.
Summary of research and analysis
Preliminary research and analysis has focused on establishing a chronology for the Mona Village and analyzing artifact distributions to see if temporal or spatial trends were observable with only small portion of the village undisturbed. Correspondence analysis proved to be successful in providing a three phase chronology for the Mona Village. Mean Ceramic Dates for Phases 1-3 range from 1770 through 1793, indicating that the sampled portion of the village was occupied from likely the 1750s through the beginning of the 19th century. Complete information on the Mona Village chronology can be found here.
When the phased shovel test pits are mapped, it becomes clear that the earliest occupation was located to the east of the site, closest to the Mona Works. The later phases stretch to the west and are severely truncated by the parking lot and Natural Sciences Complex. Artifact distributions echo the trend: early refined wares, defined here as refined stonewares, refined earthenwares, and porcelains dating to the third quarter 18th century or earlier, cluster along the eastern edge of the site. Later ceramic ware types such as pearlware and whiteware have higher densities throughout the western portion of the site. Wrought nails show relatively consistent density across the site, suggesting that nails may have been used in the construction of slave houses through time.
Jillian E. Galle with historical research by Suzanne Francis-Brown
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery and University of the West Indies, Mona
Things you need to know about the Mona Village 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.
- 97 shovel-test-pits were excavated at the Mona Village in January 2010.
- An alphanumeric system was established for naming STPs that combine the Area, the Transect Letter, and the STP number. The Mona Village site was divided into two areas, Area 1 and Area 2. 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 Village site is designated as Project “1217”. Artifact ID numbers for artifacts associated with the village therefore begin with the 1217 prefix.
- Architectural and landscape features were selectively mapped with a total station.
The University of 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 analyzing 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. Conolley served as lecturer for the 2010/2011 field school. Galle and Conolley currently hold a three-year permit for work at the Mona and Papine 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 Village was supported by the DAACS Endowment and the University of 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 Sabrina Rampersad co-directed excavations at the Mona Village in 2010. Ivor Conolley played a significant role in organizing and supervising fieldwork. Leslie Cooper, Ivor Conolley, Lynsey Bates, and Karen Hutchins played particularly significant roles on insuring each field school ran smoothly on all fronts.
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).
Dr. Suzanne Francis-Brown has provided invaluable historical research and advice on all manner of UWI-related concerns.
Karen Hutchins and Karen Spence supervised all laboratory work between 2008-2010.
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 with 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.
2010 H28A Archaeological Field School Students: John-Marc Evans, Cornelia Francis, St. Marie Gibbs, Keri Goulbourne, Christopher Graham, Danielle Green, Jermaine Lambert, Krystina Laurence, Janice Malcolm, Ka-Sheena Minott, Mavis Morris, Machela Osagboro, Tanel Panton, Latoya Senior, Roslyn Smith, and Winston Watson.
There were no archaeological features identified or excavated at the Mona Village site.
Mona Village 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 a great house compound, in the Caribbean through the use of shovel-test-pit surveys. For sites with extensive and standardized STP coverage, including the Mona Village 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-Bayes 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 Village Site
Bayseian smoothing and CA analysis can be used on STP data from the Mona Village site. The CA for the Mona Village resulted in three occupational phases for the survey area. What remains of the Mona Village date from the 1770s through the 1820s. With much of the village area destroyed by construction in the 1960s, it is likely that an even later occupation of the village lies to the north of the survey area under the Natural Sciences Complex. The MCDs and TPQs suggest that the portion of the village captured in the survey was occupied first along the eastern edge of the survey area, closest to the Mona Works. As the village grew in size, the data suggest that it spread toward the west and we can only assume north as well.
The smoothed ceramic ware-type frequencies for the village fit the expectations of the seriation model well, witness the point configuration in the plot of STP assemblages on the first two CA dimensions (Figure 1). The corresponding plot of ware types reveals that CA axis 1 reflects a slight temporal trend with Nottingham, White Salt Glaze stoneware, and Whieldon Wares representing Phase 1 on the right and Pearlware, Yellow Ware, and unidentifiable but likely locally-produced coarse earthenware on the left, representing Phase 3 (Figure 2). Phase 2 ceramics include Delft, Chinese Porcelain, and Afro-Caribbean Ceramics. When the phase assignments were mapped onto the shovel-test-pits, the earliest, Phase 1 occupation is seen along the eastern side of the site, near Queen’s Way, with Phase 2 and Phase 3 trending to the west (figure 3). The true spatial and temporal extent of the Mona village will never be completely known but the survey provides a glimpse of mid-18th to early-19th century occupation along the southern edges of the village.View detailed phasing query
The Mona Village 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 Village site. Excavation during the 2010 field season consisted solely of a shovel-test-pit survey.
PDF of site map showing excavated shovel test pit locations.
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.