Things you need to know about House 14 before you use the data:
- There are two numbering systems for houses at the Montpelier slave village. Both systems were implemented by Barry Higman. Higman numbered the New Montpelier slave houses while in the field in the 1970s and renumbered the houses for his 1998 book on Montpelier Plantation (Higman 1998). The DAACS analysis has adopted the numbering system used by Higman in his published work. We provide the old numbering and new numbering information here as anyone returning to the original field notes will need to convert the old field numbers to the new numbering system.
Old house numbers used in 1970s field notes and artifact logs. New house numbers used in Higman 1998 and by DAACS. DAACS Project IDs House 1 House 26 1202 House 4 House 14 1200 House 14 House 37 1203 House 20 House 24 1201
- The New Montpelier Slave Village and Sugar Works maps available on the Site Images Page are compiled from different sources. The sugar works section of the map is an optimal estimate of the c. 1834 layout, based on documentary references of building locations as well as a field survey conducted by Higman of existing structures in the mid 1970s. The complete slave village area was mapped in 1976 during which all architectural elements still visible on the landscape were plotted. The Slave Village and Sugar Works maps were then aligned using GPS points acquired during a 2006 visit to the New Montpelier site by DAACS crew and Higman. Additionally, two foot contours are available for the slave village area based on a comprehensive landscape survey carried out during the mid to late 1970s by Higman.
- Field measurements are in feet and tenths-of-feet.
- Quadrat IDs are in the format "E160N25" which represents the easting and northing coordinates of the northwest corner of the quadrat.
- Expansion in geographic coverage has required that DAACS staff work outside of the Chesapeake region and move beyond their main laboratory at Monticello. DAACS undertook its first international project during the first five months of 2006 when it moved its lab to Kingston, Jamaica. The DAACS Jamaica team consisted of Ms. Leslie Cooper, DAACS Archaeological Analyst, Mr. Henry Sharp, DAACS Archaeological Analyst, and Dr. Jillian Galle, DAACS Project Manager. DAACS staff spent 2.5 months analyzing archaeological collections curated by the University of West Indies Department of History and Archaeology and 2.5 months working with collections curated by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
Important information about the Montpelier Collections
The following sections include information about the Montpelier collections in general as well as specific details about the House 14 assemblage. They contain important information about unprovenienced artifacts and artifacts that were missing from the collection. It is essential that researchers review these sections carefully before beginning their analysis.
The New Montpelier collections are over 30 years old and have been curated by a number of different archaeolgists and Jamaican institutions. As a result, DAACS uncovered two major problems with the collections: missing artifacts and missing or incomplete contextual information for existing artifacts. These problems, and our solutions to these problems, are described below. A general discussion of the difficulties is first provided, followed by detailed discussion of site by site concerns. We hope this document will serve as our best understanding of the history of the New Montpelier collections and will guide future researchers’ work with these materials. Please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions about the Montpelier collections.
New Montpelier was excavated between 1973 and 1980. A memo on file at the Univesity of West Indies, Mona archaeology laboratory that dates from the late 1980s as well as personal communication with Higman indicate that all artifacts from the New Montpelier excavations were processed in the early 1980s at the Jamaica National Heritage Trust’s archaeological facility located in the Naval Hospital in Port Royal, Jamaica. Once processed, the artifacts were curated by the JNHT until the late 1980s. In 1987, U.W.I.’s Department of History hired Kofi Agorsah as its first full-time archaeologist. Shortly after his hire, the New Montpelier collections were moved from the Naval Hospital to the University of West Indies campus. Higman indicates that some New Montpelier artifacts remained on exhibit at the Trust. Hurricane Ivan (2004) caused significant damage to the Naval Hospital and the facility has remained closed due to structural damage since the storm, although it continues to house archaeological collections curated by the JNHT.
As is discussed in greater detail below, DAACS staff discovered that all ceramics for Montpelier House 14 were missing from the collections housed at U.W.I. Smaller percentages of ceramics from other houses were missing and we could not find a number of significant, non-ceramic objects described by Higman in his artifact logs. It is likely that some of these objects were on exhibit at the JNHT prior to Hurricane Gilbert, which struck Jamaica in 1988 and which hit Port Royal and the Naval Hospital particularly hard. During our work at the Trust, Dr. Galle (DAACS Project Manager) had several discussions with Mrs. Anne-Marie Howard Brown, curator for the JNHT, about the Montpelier collections. Mrs. Howard-Brown indicated that she had recently seen one or two boxes of Montpelier artifacts at either the Naval Hospital or Headquarters House, the current location for the JNHT's Department of Archaeology. Unfortunately, JNHT staff was unable to locate these artifacts during DAACS's time in Jamaica. We conclude that most, if not all, of the missing New Montpelier collections remain at the Jamaica National Heritage Trust or were lost in the damage incurred by Hurricanes Gilbert and Ivan.
Missing Contextual Information for Artifacts
When the New Montpelier artifacts were initially processed, Higman and his staff used ink and nail polish to label all of the ceramic and tobacco pipe sherds from New Montpelier with their appropriate contextual information. Personal communication with Higman indicates that these labeled artifacts were bagged by context with other artifacts from the same contexts. These artifacts were subsequently stored at the Naval Hospital in Port Royal.
After the Montpelier artifacts were transferred to U.W.I., they appear to have been used as part of a teaching collection. A number of class projects completed in the late 1980s and early 1990s have survived. They indicate that subsets of the New Montpelier collection were given to students to inventory. At some point during this inventory process a decision was made to ignore horizontal context designations and to group all of the New Montpelier artifacts by stratigraphic level. When we arrived at U.W.I., we therefore discovered that all artifacts had been bagged by stratigraphic level within each House and that most artifacts had been removed from their context or unit designations. The only artifacts that retained contextual information were those ceramic and tobacco pipe sherds labeled by Higman in the early 1980s. This meant that we encountered boxes full of artifacts labeled “House 1, Level 1”, “House 1, Level 2”, etc. however no context information within levels was retained. Vertical control had been retained for the New Montpelier artifacts but horizontal control had been eliminated. All artifacts except for ceramics and tobacco pipes have no horizontal contextual data and the physical reanalysis of these artifacts can now only be conducted on the most general site-wide level.
Since the majority of ceramic and tobacco pipe sherds had context labels, DAACS staff was able to physically reanalyze these ceramic and tobacco pipes sherds to DAACS standards. We were also able to place most beads and buttons in their correct contexts based on photographs that Higman had labeled with context numbers. Beads and buttons that could be reliably provenienced were cataloged to DAACS standards. Any ceramic, tobacco pipe, bead or button that could not be placed with certainty into a context was cataloged as an unprovenienced artifact within its correct house number (i.e. House 37-UNPROV ). Examples of unprovenienced artifacts include ceramics whose ink labels were illegible or were partially missing with enough data to indicate the sherd was from a specific house. In other cases we might have known that an artifact was from a specific house due to its bag or box label but we could not assign it to a context. An “UNPROV” context was created by DAACS for each of the four houses analyzed. House 37 has a context known as “1203-UNPROV”, House 26 has “1202-UNPROV”, House 14 has “1200-UNPROV” and House 24 has “1201-UNPROV”.
The remainder of the artifacts (glass, nails, brick, tools, utensils, etc.) had no context information associated with them. Fortunately, Higman’s artifact logs were exceptionally detailed and basic information for these artifact classes were entered into their appropriate context within the DAACS database. The artifacts entered into the DAACS database using Higman’s paper artifact catalog have general descriptions but no measurements, color descriptions, manufacturing technique information, and so forth.
Details on the Analysis of All Artifact Classes
As noted above, the majority of ceramic and tobacco pipe sherds had context labels. DAACS staff was able to physically reanalyze these ceramic and tobacco pipes sherds to DAACS's standards using our cataloging protocols. We were also able to place most beads and buttons in their correct contexts based on photographs that Higman had labeled with context numbers. Beads and buttons that could be reliably provenienced were cataloged to DAACS standards. Any ceramic, tobacco pipe, bead or button that could not be placed with certainty into a context was cataloged as an unprovenienced artifact within its correct house number (i.e. House 37-UNPROV ). Examples of unprovenienced artifacts include ceramics whose ink labels were illegible or were partially missing with enough data to indicate the sherd was from a specific house. In other cases we might have known that an artifact was from a specific house due to its bag or box label but we could not assign it to a context.
All other artifact classes (glass vessels and objects, nails, brick, tools, utensils, etc.) in the Montpelier collections had no context information associated with them. Fortunately, Higman’s artifact logs were exceptionally detailed and basic information for these artifact classes were entered into their appropriate context within the DAACS database. The artifacts entered into the DAACS database using Higman’s paper artifact catalog have general descriptions but no measurements, color descriptions, manufacturing technique information, or other DAACS cataloging protocols completed.
House 14 Collections
Although the preceding discussion applies to the entire Montpelier collection, we also encountered peculiarities specific to each house analyzed. This section summarizes our work with the collections from House 14, provides artifacts counts, information on missing artifacts and estimates of the percentage of artifacts missing per house.
Please note that 99.4% of the ceramic assemblage from House 14 (around 377 sherds) was missing from the collections at U.W.I. We suspect that the majority of these sherds are at the JNHT. The only ceramic sherds analyzed by DAACS from House 14 are those belonging to a stoneware blacking bottle that was featured in Higman’s 1998 book. Therefore only 2 ceramic sherds from House 14 are present in the DAACS database
Although nearly all of the ceramics were missing, we were able to locate and catalog to DAACS standards most of the tobacco pipes, beads, and buttons from House 14. Basic information for the remaining artifacts was entered into the database from the paper finds list. One bead and 10 buttons had no context information but could be identified as House 14 and were cataloged into the “UNPROV” (unprovenienced) context for that house. Researchers doing spatial analyses should be aware that 5.5% of the beads and 45.4% of the buttons from House 14 were unprovenienced.
House 14 Total Cataloged Artifacts Unprovenienced Cataloged Artifacts (percentage of artifact class that is unprov) ¹ Missing Artifacts (Percentage of Artifacts Missing)²
All Other Artifacts
Contexts (Field Records)
¹ “Unprov Artifacts” refers to the number of artifacts analyzed by DAACS that have no identifiable provenience. “Percentage unprov” refers to the percentage of the total artifact count that is unprovenienced.
² “Missing Artifacts” indicates the number of artifacts missing from each category. “Percentage of Artifacts Missing” records the percentage of artifacts missing from the category of artifact. Both numbers are calculated by comparing the counts in Higman’s paper finds list with the actual number of ceramic sherds that we found in the collection.
Barry Higman's Montpelier Archives
Higman spent over a week with DAACS staff at Mona between mid-February and mid-March 2006. During this time, Higman transferred all of his excavation and artifact photographs to the DAACS team for processing. These photographs were scanned and labeled at the DAACS lab at Monticello. The photographs were filed in acid-free photo-sleeves and placed in three-ring binders. These binders were presented to Mrs. Karen Spence in the archaeology lab at the University of West Indies Mona.
Higman also gave all of his paper field maps, notes and artifact logs to DAACS. These journals and maps were scanned at Monticello. These documents are in the process of being tranmitted to the West Indies Collection at the University of West Indies, Mona Library.
Access to a subset of the photographs, field notes, and maps are provided on this website. The DAACS laboratory at Monticello will maintain the complete digital archive of field and artifact photographs, field notes and scanned maps from New Montpelier.
Use of Montpelier Images
DAACS will provide digital copies of all of these documents to researchers for free as long as they are used for non-profit activities such as research, teaching, and private study.
If a researcher plans to use artifact or site images for profit, written approval from the chair of the U.W.I., Mona Department of History and Archaeology must be received prior to the distribution of the digital files.
The DAACS-Montpelier project would not have occurred without the unstinting support provided by a number of individuals and academic departments at the University of West Indies, Mona. Barry Higman has been exceptionally generous with his data, time, and knowledge of the island. We could not have accomplished our work without him. The support and friendship of Dr. Swithin Wilmot, Chair, Department of History and Archaeology, Dr. Philip Allsworth-Jones, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, and Mrs. Karen Spence, Archaeology Technologist made our experience at U.W.I. a positive and successful one. Dr. James Robertson, Ms. Thera Edwards, and Mr. Ivor Connolly also provided valuable advice. All of these individuals gave us the warmest of welcomes, as did the general faculty in the Departments of History and Archaeology and Geography and Geology.