Ryan Espersen: Identifying Dry Stone Enslaved African Housing at the Spring Bay Flat Plantation

Ryan Espersen, director of SABARC, the Saba Archeology Center, presented a paper at the 26th Congress of the International Association of Caribbean Archaeologists in St. Maarten, entitled “Identifying Dry Stone Enslaved African Housing at the Spring Bay Flat Plantation, Saba, Dutch Caribbean”.

The paper describes the excavations at the Spring Bay Flat sugar and indigo plantation on Saba, Dutch Caribbean from the eighteenth to early nineteenth century The archaeological surveys have identified an enslaved African domestic area that featured several dry stone structures that appeared to serve as housing. Dry stone housing for enslaved Africans has, to date, not been readily identified in Caribbean colonial plantation contexts.

Dry Stone Enslaved African Housing at the Spring Bay Flat Plantation (Photo Ryan Espersen)
Dry Stone Enslaved African Housing at the Spring Bay Flat Plantation
(Photo Ryan Espersen)

By viewing the Spring Bay Flat plantation through the socio-spatial dialectic, activity areas within the plantation’s landscape can be surmised as they were intentionally selected as a means to maximize both profits and control of enslaved African labour. By identifying domestic areas across the Spring Bay Flat plantation through this model, and through West African conceptions of the house-yard, dry stone structures within these spaces can be readily identified as enslaved African housing.

The paper can be downloaded here.

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