Dating the sites

Plot of Mean Ceramic Dates (MCDs) against CA dimension 1 scores for Jessups

As at New River, preliminary research has focused on dating the Jessups villages. We have used a variety of statistical methods to accurately pinpoint the beginning and ending dates of each settlement and chart change in the intensity and location of occupation within settlements over time. With dates in hand, we then chart how the use and discard of Afro-Caribbean wares changed over the course of the village occupations. See the DAACS website for more detailed information on the statistical methods used here.

The mean ceramic dates suggest that the Jessups I village was occupied from the middle of the 18th century until about 1780. The occupation span for Jessups II apparently runs from about 1780 to 1810. However, the presence of sizable quantities of ceramic wares on the later site that post-date 1820, indicates that the MCD of 1810 may be too early. The discrepancy might be resolved by suggesting that the number of slaves at Jessups II dropped dramatically after 1810. Evaluating this idea requires additional samples from Jessups II.

A comparison of the dating evidence for New River and Jessups reveals that the shifts in the locations of the slave villages occurred at the same time. Not only are the dates the same, but the character of the change was too. In both cases, the site of the old village was terraced for cane cultivation and the new village was located farther away from the great-house and mill complex. The similarities raise the possibility of a single process, one that may have affected slave lifeways across the region. Again, further work is required to evaluate whether a larger trend is involved and to evaluate its causes.

Change over time in the proportion of Afro-Caribbean ware, relative to imported ceramics at Jessups I and II. The central line shows the trend. The lines on either side are 95% confidence limits

The trend in the relative frequency of Afro-Caribbean ware at the Jessups villages shows similarities and differences with the New River trend. The overall pattern for the course of the occupation is the same: increase followed by decrease. However, at Jessups AC ware achieves its highest frequency in the late 1760s and there is an apparent dip and then a second increase in the 1770s. If, as the New River data suggest, AC ware manufacture is largely a Nevisian tradition, this kind of unanticipated variability may track variation in the proportion of newly-arrived Africans, in slave labour forces. These individuals lacked the local knowledge necessary to produce these wares. Again, further work is required to resolve this issue.

Read more about the Jessups excavations and estate on the DAACS website.