Rum and Hellfire from Across the Pond

Charlie and Ash color This week has been absolutely hectic, amazing, and full of a myriad of distinguished speakers from the University of Bristol, the History Department, as well as our own department.

Monday, March 14 at 6pm (WASH101): Charlotte Goudge “Liquid Power: An Archaeological Excavation of an Antiguan Rum Distillery”

Tuesday, March 15 at 6pm  (WASH107): Aisling Tierney “The Outrage of the Hell-Fire Clubs: Sex, Satanism, and Shenanigans”

Wednesday, March 16 at 12pm (WASH101): Dr. Gerard Chouin  “Testing the Plague Hypothesis in Sub-Saharan Africa: Snapshots of a Project in the Making”

Thursday, March 17 at 7pm (Sadler Center Commonwealth Auditorium): Jorge Cham, creator of PHD Comics, “The Power of Procrastination”

Friday, March 18 at 12pm (Morton314): Dr. Joe Jones “Detecting Diaspora: Reconstructing Geo-ancestry and Environmental Health from Skeletal Remains”

Sugar Mills, Betty's Hope, Antigua

Charlotte (Charlie) took a phenomenological materialist approach to her site at Betty’s Hope Plantation in Antigua. She examined the landscape as a constructed place of negotiated identities. More specifically, Charlie discussed Betty’s Hope as it was linked into the Atlantic world through its production of rum. Rum was an important socio-economic catalyst during the 17th-20th centuries, traversing social and economic boundaries in a way rarely seen in any society. A highly desirable, luxury product, rum impacted all strata of society lowest slaves to the highest echelons of British society. During the 18th and 19th centuries rum developed from a waste product into highly desirable merchandise; manufactured and consumed by slaves in the Caribbean for distribution and consumption in European markets, the cyclical exchange system came full turn when it was traded to West Africa to be used as a social lubricant to ease tension while buying and selling slaves who were then sent to the plantations to produce more rum. Charlie discussed the rum stillhouse as a microcosm, reflecting the material and ideological complexities of this British colonial plantation in the Caribbean.

st-benedict-oxidized-medal-2043934One artifact in particular stood out, which spurred much post-talk discussion. This is a St. Benedict catholic medallion that was found in the foundation of the stillhouse, placed between fill absent of all other artifacts and sterile soil below. Perhaps it could have been placed as protection for those people building or working in the stillhouse. Josue, a Phd student, suggested that it could have been sabotage from competing Catholic colonial powers towards the protestant British colonial power. It is intriguing that St. Benedict is one of the patron saints of drinking.

hellfire illustration

Aisling (Ash) continued the theme of revelry, taking it to new levels of debauchery when discussing the mysterious 18th century hellfire clubs of the UK. Previous attention to the study of clubs has been conducted by lay historians who do not engage with the materiality or archaeology of the subject. The over-reliance on documentary evidence, devoid of theoretical analysis, resulted in superficial understandings of the clubs in terms of the realities of their activities, why they emerged and disappeared, and their wider impact. These clubs only became known through the historical record when there was a faction and fallout within the club members. Otherwise, there is relatively little known about the members or material culture. Minimal drinking vessels and memorabilia were recovered from her surveys.

Ash focused instead on the known men, women, and architectural legacy of these clubs, specifically this unusual cave built by Sir Francis Dashwood, who was a wealthy aristocrat with huge political power.  His interests included drinking, literature and blasphemy, and the caves were built to reflect these. She employed innovative 3-D scans of the save system which includes odd rooms such as the Benjamin Franklin room, banquet hall, and a river Styx. There is a descent into darkness with choices along the route to go towards the light or the dark. The visceral, symbolic, and ideological discussion of the significance of the cave formations (along with various other material culture meant to challenge Christian theology and notions of decency) would have carried on all night. There are interesting links to notions of trust, friendship, Rabelais, civility, power, and the sacred and the profane.

hellfire4 3D scanning equipment (or garden décor)

Thank you to our visiting scholars! We look forward to your next visit!

Charlie and Ash Ponder Charlie and Ash

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The Secret Lives of Plantation Animals

I am Jenna Carlson Dietmeier, a fifth-year PhD candidate.  My research is focused on the symbolic roles and husbandry of working animals on eighteenth-century Lowcountry and Chesapeake plantations. In my dissertation, I hope to illuminate how working animals were incorporated into the everyday lives of both the planter and the enslaved classes. To do so, I am analyzing the bones of horses and cattle from Drayton Hall and Stobo Plantation in South Carolina, from Oxon Hill Manor in Maryland, and from Mount Vernon in Virginia. Additionally, I have analyzed two articulated eighteenth-century horse skeletons from Jamestown and Yorktown, Virginia, to be used as case studies in my research.

CowSkull JamestownHorse

To study the working lives of animals in the eighteenth century, I am  looking for indications that the animals may have been working animals, such as arthritis and bitwear on the teeth of horses. I am also analyzing historical documents from the regions for information on how these animals were raised and how they might have been used as symbols of power on the plantations.  My research is ongoing, but I am starting to see changes through time in how cattle were raised in each of the regions.  With additional zooarchaeological and historical research this fall, I hope to pinpoint how these changes may or may not have influenced the use of working oxen in each of the regions.

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Fall 2015 Events

Anthropology and History Brown Bags, Omohundro Talks, and other events
Please feel free to add events or email Patrick Johnson with events to add

Thursday, October 15th 2015: 6 PM SWEM Pizza & Data management

Tuesday, October 20: 5:30-7 Career Center Grant/Fellowship Workshop for Anthropology, History, and American Studies Grad Students

Wednesday October 21: Anthropology Brown Bag Washington 101 at noon, Adam Barger, WM Senior Academic Technology Specialist: Overview of current academic technologies

Friday, October 23rd, 12pm-1:30pm: History Dept. Brown Bag Professor Trent Vinson’s discussion of his pre-circulated paper, “Toward the Beloved Community: Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Luthuli and the Making of the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement”

Friday, October 23rd, 2-4 PM Anthropology Department Homecoming Reception

Tuesday, October 27, 2015:  7 PM Omohundro Talk pre-circulated paper “There’s No Such Thing as ‘Pre-history’: What Chaco, Cahokia, and the Continent’s Longue Durée Can Tell Us about Colonial America?” Julianna Barr, Duke University

Wednesday, November 4: noon College Apartments 5 American Studies Brown Bag, Pedro Cruz Freire, PhD Student in Art and Architectural History at University of Seville, “Cuba and Florida: Guardians of the Spanish Empire in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Friday, November 6th, 1:30pm-3pm: History Dept. Brown Bag Visiting Professor Emily Gioielli’s mock job talk, title TBD

Tuesday, November 10, 2015:  7 PM Omohundro Talk Jessica Parr, University of New Hampshire

Wednesday November 11: Anthropology Brown Bag noon Washington 101, Anthropology Graduate Student Grant Workshop

Friday, November 13th, 12pm-1:30pm: History Dept. Brown Bag Professor Kathrin Levitan’s paper presentation,  “‘I Expect the Ship to Sail every Day’: Convicts and the Post in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Australia.”

Wednesday November 18:  Anthropology Brown Bag noon Washington 101, Matthew Abel, Anthropology Honors Program  “Cultivated spaces: urban farming and neighborhood change”

Friday, November 20th, 2pm-3:30pm
: History Dept. Brown Bag Visiting Professor Dajeong Chung’s mock job talk, “The Invention of Humanitarian Food Relief, 1953-1962: UNICEF and CARE Milk Feeding Programs in South Korea.”

Omohundro Colloquia

American Indian Initiative of Colonial Williamsburg

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Searching for Yamasee Mission San Antonio de Punta Rasa: Garcon Point

Continuing the day after we excavated at Mulat, Jodi Preston, Olivia Pitts, Jen Knutson, Kenyan Murrell, Michelle Pigott, John Worth and I worked in the Garcon Point area.

Again, I chose the area following John Worth’s research; particularly helpful is a British plat of land (left) north of Garcon Point oriented with west at the bottom that marked at least one house south of a garden and west of an old fence.

I spoke to landowners in the area, and just like in Mulat, several were excited to host us! We started at a lovely home right on the water and did two shovel tests in the front yard and two in the back yard. Almost immediately, in the front yard Kenyan found a stamped sherd (below left) that matches pottery at other Yamasee sites, as well as other Native American sherds and potentially eighteenth-century nails and pieces of a button. Five meters away, in the top ten centimeters, Kenyan found another Altamaha/San Marcos sherd (below right) among other undecorated sherds.

Archaeologists in South Carolina call this pottery Altamaha after the Yamasee capital town of that name in South Carolina while archaeologists in Florida call it San Marcos after the Castillo of that name in St. Augustine where Yamasees moved to when leaving the Carolinas after the 1715 Yamasee War.

Two shovel tests in the backyard were more disturbed by construction, development, and erosion, but Jen & Jodi found about twenty Native American pottery sherds in another fortunate shovel test. Michelle & Olivia found a particularly eye-catching, though non-colonial find, a 1951 glass carboy from Illinois that looked almost intact!
15BB_28AUG2015_ST12_NPROFILE_2 15BB_28AUG2015_ST12_GLASS_6

People in the area reported extensive damage from hurricanes, particularly Ivan, as well as disturbances from construction and episodes of fill. However, the old driveway in the front yard did protect a potential midden, so intact eighteenth-century features may be found when I return to excavate in the area during this academic year and summer of 2016! I hope to bring more volunteers from the University of West Florida to the Garcon and Mulat areas to gain and share insights about the rich archaeology with helpful people.

In the meantime, I will be analyzing material I had the good fortune to examine at Brockington and Associates, a cultural resource management firm that excavated several Yamasee sites in South Carolina. I’m also translating and interpreting documents written by Yamasee leaders, warriors, and advisers I found in the University of West Florida Archives, the Library of Congress, and the PK Yonge Library of the University of Florida. Please stay tuned for posts about those insights, as well as rare documents and secondary sources about Southeastern Native Americans more broadly that I found at the Newberry Library, New York Historical Society, National Anthropology Archives, as well as other archives and libraries.

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Searching for Yamasee Mission San Antonio de Punta Rasa: Mulat

As part of my dissertation research, I spent time in the Pensacola area looking for the 1749-1761 Spanish Mission San Antonio de Punta Rasa building on John Worth’s success in finding 1741-1761 Apalachee Mission San Joseph de Escambe. Spanish maps are unfortunately rather vague or imprecise. Juan Joseph Elixio de la Puente made two maps in 1768 that show a few geographical mistakes–he marked the Escambia River “San Antonio” after the Yamasee rather than the Apalachee– while Agustin Lopez de la Cámara Alta’s map precisely marked geographical features but not necessarily settlements. Incidentally, all the maps are from the wonderful Early Maps of the American South hosted by the University of North Carolina’s Research Laboratories of Archaeology.

Soon after the 1763 Treaty of Paris, in which England received Florida from Spain in exchange for Cuba, British surveys offered more precise maps. John Clune and Margo Stringfield’s Historic Pensacola describes the entire survey, but a few plats label “old hut” that may relate to the Yamasee mission.

Robert_Carkett_GrantThis plat orients with north at the bottom, River Governador is present-day Mulatto Bayou, a “New House” (as of the late 1760s) is in the center at the bottom with “Garden” to the east and “Land Formerly Cultivated” to the west and “Old Hut” to the west of that.

In 1983, Judith Bense led a UWF field school that included Jan Lloyd that surveyed the Escambia Bay area. Their excavations revealed a range of prehistoric materials—people in the area still talk about the Bernath site— but no definitively eighteenth-century material. Their work did lead one land-owner to report finding a piece of Spanish majolica called San Luis Polychrome— named after the Apalachee mission San Luis de Talimali— and a Native American sherd with no decoration but a fine sand temper not uncommon in the eighteenth century.

Based on these historical and archaeological insights, I started my search for the Yamasee site by sharing this flier with Mulat-area landowners. Armed with those photos of potentially Yamasee pottery decorations of stamping, red filming, and brushing I asked if anyone had seen similar pottery. I also requested permission to look at the surface of their land and to excavate in conjunction with the University of West Florida Archaeology Institute. Out of the 30 or so people I asked, more than half gave me permission for at least surface examination, and many invited me into their homes for very helpful chats about the neighborhood and local history. Everyone was very gracious!

One family in particular had an extensive collection of multiple boxes of historical material though only a few sherds were potentially made by Yamasees. Based on their findings, and the fact they lived near where the British marked an “old hut” I started my excavations there! UWF students and graduates Michelle Pigott, Jen Knutson, Melissa Maynard, Kayla Rowe, Jillian Okray, and Kenyan Murell as well as Dr. John Worth kindly volunteered their time. In two days they excavated eleven 50 x 50 cm shovel tests, and while a few contained nothing, we gained valuable knowledge about the local soil layers and found several Native American pottery sherds and some European materials.

15BB_26AUG2015_ST5_START_F1_PLANVIEW_3 british_bead

This 50 x 50 cm shovel test included a turquoise British trade bead located above the feature shown above at 40 cm below ground surface. No cultural material was found in that feature, though, so we may have to return to this spot to interpret it in more detail. However, recovering a British bead in addition to the pottery the landowners found shows that the British maps precisely and accurately marked eighteenth-century settlements. We didn’t quite have enough luck to find sherds with suggestively-Yamasee designs by the second day of fieldwork; that took until the third day!

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AGSC Meeting Minutes – 4.15.15

The meeting of the Anthropology Graduate Student Collective of the College of William & Mary was called to order by President Summer Moore at 6:30 p.m.

7 members present.

The meeting commenced with remarks and announcements from the AGSC President Summer Moore.

President Summer Moore: Discussions of possible constitutional edits and position consolidations were held.

Secretary Erin Schwartz: Minutes will soon be posted to the AGSC website.

Treasurer Josué Nieves: No report.

Vice President and Website & Blog Chair Mallory Moran: Elections will be happening soon. We were thinking that along with elections for President, VP, etc., we could put amendment ballot in the same form. We might want to get the proposed changes sorted out first.

Social Chair Elizabeth Scholz: This week’s Happy Hour will be at 6 at the Green Leafe on Thursday. End of the year thing might be the Sunday after the Keck lab party (which is May 9th).

Guest Speaker Coordinator Alexis Ohman: (update presented by Elizabeth Scholz) Guest speaker series is underway. Tomorrow is our first one at 2 p.m. We are trying to record the talk or livestream it. Someone needs to go pick up the equipment tomorrow and post it later. Jack Martin and the linguistic department are organizing a dinner for the speakers.

Exhibits and Space Committee Representative Rachael Hulvey: Not present.

Public Event Coordinator Ally Campo: The IG is live! Follow us @anthrogradsc. Anyone who has pictures of them doing fieldwork, labwork, or socializing with fellow anthrograds, please send them to Make sure to request your filter.

Budget Committee Representative Josué Nieves: *See Treasurer’s report.

Graduate Committee Representative Summer Moore: They have only met twice this term.

GSA Anthropology Representative Sarah Mattes: Grad Bash is next Friday. More food! More drinks! Public Policy is doing an interdisciplinary panel on SCOTUS’ decision on marriage rights. Keep a look out for that. There’s also One Tribe, One Day and the volleyball cookout on Tuesday. This is the day where they want people to donate to the college to show the administration that we care about the school. Even if it’s a dollar. College Delly night is likely happening again (towards the last week of the semester). People also should start thinking about who should be the new GSA rep.

Old Business:

– None.

New Business:

– See President’s report.

The meeting concluded at 8:05 p.m.

Erin Schwartz

Secretary, AGSC

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