Date of Award

12-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Anthropology

Major Professor

Walter E. Klippel

Committee Members

Barbara J. Heath, Gerald F. Schroedl

Abstract

The Caribbean island of St. Kitts was one of the wealthiest colonies in the British Empire during the late 17th through early 19th centuries because of its production and export of sugar. The British sought to defend the island from foreign invaders by building a large military fortification on the island called Brimstone Hill Fortress. Built beginning in 1690, the fort was home to a community of enslaved Africans, British army officers, British Royal Engineers, and enlisted soldiers up until its abandonment in the mid 1800s. To feed such a diverse workforce, the British military utilized imported provisions such as preserved fish and barreled beef and pork in combination with locally available livestock and produce. The diets of those residing at Brimstone Hill varied according to military rank and ethnic origin. Zooarchaeological analysis of faunal assemblages from BSH5 (enlisted men’s occupation) and BSH6 (British military officers) are examined and compared to faunal data already analyzed from enslaved African and British army officers living quarters. The analysis shows differences in the relative proportions of mammals, birds, and fish at each occupation. The enlisted men at BSH5 consumed relatively more fish and beef compared to those residing at BSH6 whose diet consisted mostly of locally raised sheep and goat. Data from skeletal part frequencies and stable carbon isotope analysis reveal that some of the beef consumed at BSH5 was barreled. This comparative analysis aids in the understanding of how the British military chose to provision its diverse population and in doing so further delineated the social ranks within the fortress walls.

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