Feb 2013: PhD fellows excavate slavery site on St. Eustatius

Feb 2013: PhD fellows excavate slavery site on St. Eustatius

1st – 7th February / St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean

Over the last couple of weeks, the EUROTAST network has been exploring the archaeology of slavery in the Dutch Caribbean. From the 1-7 February 2013, all PhD fellows received hands-on fieldwork training by participating in an ongoing excavation of an enslaved African village site associated with a sugar plantation on the small island of St. Eustatius – a critical hub for trade during the 17th and 18th centuries. Training was conducted by the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research (SECAR), who also hosted the fellows in a newly opened special residence for visiting researchers.

Training began with historical tours of the island led by SECAR president and historian Gay Soetekouw. The fieldwork was supervised by SECAR archaeologists Ruud Stelten and Joost Morsink, and Professors Corinne Hofman and Menno Hoogland from Leiden University, Netherlands. They introduced the fellows to to basic field techniques, which included:

  • Site Survey 
  • Excavation 
  • Cataloguing of finds (written documentation, drawing, photography) 
  • Mapping and Spacial plotting of finds 
  • Cleaning and conservation 
  • Interpretation of finds and their contexts

This experience gave the fellows a unique opportunity to work on an active archaeological site linked to slavery in the Caribbean. Since many of the fellows are non-archaeologists, the experience also provided an insight into research practice in a new field. Furthermore, working on a site of ongoing research encouraged fellows to work diligently and sensitively, ensuring a general duty of care.

Although fellows worked on the site for a relatively short amount of time, their collaborative work assisted in the uncovering of numerous material artefacts, building structure residues, and a well preserved donkey burial.

– Post by Temi Odumosu

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