Anthropology and Architectural History 3603/7603 Place: Campbell Hall 107
University of Virginia Wednesday: 3:30-6:00
Fall 2017 Fraser D.Neiman

This course explores how archaeological evidence can be used to enhance our understanding of the slave-based societies that evolved in the early-modern Atlantic world from the 17th through early-19th centuries. The primary empirical focus is on the Chesapeake, the Carolina Low Country, and the British Caribbean, the later exemplified by Jamaica, and St. Kitts and Nevis. The course covers recent contributions to the historical and archaeological literatures on the lives of enslaved people, as well as theoretical models of human behavior and basic analysis techniques that jointly are required to make and evaluate inferences about the meaning of material evidence. The course is structured around a three research projects that offer students the opportunity to use historical knowledge, theoretical grounding, and methodological skills in the analysis of real data from the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery ( The class format combines lectures, discussion, and workshops.

The course is structured around a series of research projects that offer students the opportunity to use historical knowledge, theoretical grounding, and methodological skills in the analysis of real data from the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery ( In each project, you will have an opportunity to make and critically evaluate inferences about the historical meaning of the archaeological record left behind by enslaved Africans and their descendents. The projects focus on the following issues:
  • Project 1: Utopia Chronology. How can we infer reliable, fine-grained archaeological chronologies that are necessary to trace patterns of change in lifeways of enslaved people within a single site and at multiple sites?
  • Project 2: Slave Housing in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake. What do patterns of change across the 18th century and regional variation in slave houses and in the abundance and morphology subfloor pits tell us about social dynamics within slave communities imn the Chesapeake? How and why do Chesapeake slave houses differ from those found in South Carolina and the Caribbean?
  • Project 3: Enslaved Consumers? How and why do changing frequencies and shapes of locally made and imported ceramic vessels document changing social identities, economic opportunities, and participation by enslaved people in markets and the 18th-century "consumer revolution"?

Course Schedule and Reading List
The schedule and readling list for the course are available here.

All required reading will be available on Collab

You may want to purchase the following two books. We'll be reading almost all of Samford and three chapters from Davis.
Davis, David Brion
2006 Inhuman Bondage, The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. Oxford, New York. Click here.

Samford, Patricia
2007 Subfloor Pits and the Archaeology of Slavery in Colonial Virginia University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. Click here.

Written work for the course includes the three class projects. The class projects are due at the beginning of class on the day specified in the Course Schedule. I will deduct one letter grade for each day your project is late, unless it is accompanied by a letter from your physician or association dean attesting to your physical incapacity. Please plan your work accordingly.

In completing your work for the three projects, you are welcome to help one another think through arguments, models, and methods we are using and how they are implemented on the computer. However, I expect each of you to do every analytical step and to write up the results. Using intermediate or final results in a project that you did not obtain yourself will be considered an honor violation.

Project papers should include 8-10 pages of text. The text should reference, at appropriate points, statistical graphics, maps, and plans in support of your arguments. These figures should be numbered sequentially, with the figure numbers placed in the text. The numbered figures themsleves should appear at the end of the text. Each figure should have a caption, so that the reader knows exactly what it portrays and your take on its larger significance.

You should cite all sources on which you have drawn in completing the project. Your citations should follow the American Antiquity style guide, as outlined in section 3.4 here.

Each undergraduate student is responsible for on in-class presentation on one project. We will divide the projects up on the first day of class. Graduate students will do three presntations, one on each project. Presentations should be 15-20 minutes in length.

There will be more-or-less weekly Problem Sets. These are designed to ensure that you are mastering the analytical and technical skills that you will need to complete the projects successfully.

Doing well on the class projects requires integrating archaeological data with theoretical ideas, analytical techniques, and historical information from the reading and lectures. There is no way you will be able to be able to grasp the ideas, learn the techniques, digest the history, do the analysis, and write it all up in the week before the project is due. Success requires that you do not miss any classes; come to class having mastered the reading for that week; if you do not understand something we cover in class, ask immediately.

Honor Policy
I trust every student in this course will comply with the provisions of the Honor System of the University of Virginia. I reserve the right to determine all grades in this course, regardless of the outcome of any honor investigation. By enrolling in this course, you are signaling your acceptance of these stipulations. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the course honor policy. If you believe you may have committed an Honor Offense, you may wish to file a Conscientious Retraction ("CR") by calling the Honor Offices at (434) 924-7602. For your retraction to be considered valid, it must, among other things, be filed with the Honor Committee before you are aware that the Act in question has come under suspicion by anyone. More information on the Honor System can be found here.

Undergraduates: Three written class projects: 20% each; Project Presentation: 10%; Homework: 20%; Participation in class discussion 10%.
Graduates: Three written class projects: 15% each; Project Presentations: 8% each; Homework: 20%; Participation in class discussion 10%.

Office Hours, etc.
My office is in the Monticello Archaeology Lab. A bit of a hike. But you are welcome to come up for a chat. Official office hours are from 8:00-10:00, Monday morning. Or email me for an appointment. In addition, I"ll be hanging out at the Scholar's Lab in Alderman, on Sundays from 4:00 to 6:00 to help out with problem sets and answer questions.

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