HISTORIC ARCHAEOLOGY OF THREE LOYALIST PLANTATIONS
SAN SALVADOR ISLAND, BAHAMAS
During the 1970’s archaeological studies were made of three slave plantations on the island of San Salvador in The Bahamas. These were the first systematic studies of Loyalist plantations in The Bahamas, and provided extensive information about the way of life of both the plantation owners and their slaves during this short, but pivotal era in the history of The Bahamas.
A short background history of Florida and The Bahamas during and after the American Revolution will be followed by descriptions of the three sites. Included will be maps, architectural drawings, and photos of ruins and some of the artifacts collected, as will the limited archival information available about the owners of these three plantations. This will allow for comparisons of the three sites, which have many similarities and yet vast differences, given all were established in the same, pristine environment at nearly the same time.
Kathy Gerace holds a MS degree in anthropology/archaeology from Michigan State University. In 1971, she was teaching at Elmira College in Elmira, NY, when she was asked to teach a four-week field course in historic archaeology on the island of San Salvador in The Bahamas. It was meeting the Executive Director of the field station, Dr. Donald Gerace, that led to their marriage and Kathy becoming the Assistant Director of the field station.
Over the years the field station grew to provide a venue for scientific studies and research for over 100 colleges and universities from the US, Canada, and Europe. In 1988 the Geraces formed a Bahamian, non-profit corporation named the Bahamian Field Station (BFS). Knowing that they couldn’t live forever, the Geraces gave the BFS to the College of The Bahamas (COB) in 2003, and it was renamed the Gerace Research Centre (GRC). When the COB became the University of The Bahamas (UB), the GRC became one of their campuses, and continues to provide accommodations, lab and field equipment, and all types of logistical support for professors, students, and scientific researchers in the disciplines of archaeology, biology, geology, and the marine sciences.
HISTORY AT THE WATER’S EDGE
About 7,200 years old and buried 21 feet deep below the Gulf of Mexico, 350 yards off Manasota Key is an extremely well preserved human burial site. Archaeologists are exploring what has been termed a “globally significant” discovery. National Geographic calls it an “unprecedented” find.
How was this site discovered? A diver picked up a barnacle-crusted jaw from a shallow spot off the shore of Manasota Key. The specimen sat on a paper plate in his kitchen for a couple weeks before he realized it was probably a human bone. Weeks later the diver sent a picture to Florida’s Bureau of Archaeological Research, where it landed in front of Ryan Duggins, the bureau’s underwater archaeology supervisor. “As soon as we were there (at the site) it became clear that we were dealing with something new,” Duggins recalls. First, he spotted a broken arm bone on the seabed. Then, when he noticed a cluster of carved wooden stakes and three separate skull fragments in a depression, Duggins realized he might be dealing with a Native American bog burial site—one that had been inundated by sea level rise, but was miraculously preserved.
John McCarthy, Director of Historic Spanish Point, will speak about this newly discovered burial ground that scientists are studying underwater off Manasota Key. He is Executive Director at Spanish Point as well as a writer for Sarasota Magazine. He served over 10 years an Environmental Specialist for Sarasota County responsible for providing environmental and development review for coastal resource protection and coordination of resource monitoring and enhancement projects. Mr. McCarthy was Sarasota County Historian from 1982 to 1988.
INDIAN MOUNDS OF THE CAPE CANAVERAL SEASHORE
Zooarchaeologist Irvy Quitmyer is a long-time researcher at the Florida Museum, and was collection manager from 2001-2016. His work focuses on the animal remains from sites in southeastern North America and the circum-Caribbean region. Quitmyer’s research specialty is the study of season of and age at death of animals incorporated into archaeological samples. Many but not all of these studies were based on incremental growth structures of mollusks, particularly bivalves such as the hard clam or quahog. These studies identify the season of death of organisms and therefore also the time of the year they were gathered or fished. They also illustrate the stress on animal populations from human exploitation.
PALEO AND PASTEL: ANTHROPOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE PALM BEACHES
Pre-Columbian and historic Palm Beach County is the topic of our February 13 meeting by anthropologist and archaeologist Dorothy Block. Using archival photographs from the Lawrence E. Will Museum of the Glades, and scholarly sources, Block presents a survey of Palm Beach County’s anthropology and history. She summarizes generations of archaeological research, including newly discovered sites. Her talk will emphasize the Belle Glade archaeological culture. In addition, she will present newly archived images of the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane’s deadly aftermath.
Dorothy Block is a practicing, professional anthropologist and the Executive Director of the Lawrence E. Will Museum of the Glades. She has dedicated her career to educating the public about the Pre-Columbian archaeology of Palm Beach County. She is the Founding Chair of the Palm Beach County Archaeological Society, a chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society. She teaches Anthropology at Palm Beach State College.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE STEWARDSHIP THROUGH HERITAGE MONITORING
Join us to learn about a new program initiated by the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN). Jeff Moates, director of the FPAN West Central Region office at USF will discuss the “Heritage Monitoring Scouts” program.
Heritage Monitoring Scouts (HMS Florida) is a public engagement program focused on tracking changes to archaeological sites at risk, particularly those impacted by sea level rise and resulting erosion. Hundreds of coastal and riverine sites are threatened in Florida and tens of thousands are threatened in the United States alone. Understanding our changing coastlines and the severity of the threats to archaeological sites could help develop methods of protection for these fragile resources. The data collected can identify which sites are most at risk and in need of protection.
During Jeff’s presentation, you’ll learn what a Heritage Monitor Scout is, why monitoring sites is important, and how to become a scout. Scouts are trained and mentored by professional archaeologists who take them to the site and teach them recording techniques and the ethics of site stewardship. Specific sites will be used as examples of what scouts do and how they can help. Do you know any threatened sites in your area in need of monitoring? Scouts aren’t just for young students, but for anyone who loves the outdoors, history, and wants to get involved in site stewardship.
To learn more, come to the January 9 meeting and see what Heritage Monitoring is all about. Visit FPAN for additional details.