Comparative Analysis of the Faunal Remains from British Royal Engineer and Enslaved African Occupations at Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Kitts, West Indies
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Walter E. Klippel
Barbara J, Heath, Gerald F. Schroedl
During the 17th through 19th centuries, economic interests favoring sugarcane production and export over domestic animal husbandry, necessitated an import-based subsistence strategy in many Caribbean colonies. British military stationed on the island of St. Kitts also adopted this practice of provisioning its soldiers and the enslaved Africans who served at Brimstone Hill Fortress. Comparative analysis of the faunal materials recovered at BSH 3 Terrace 1 (Royal Engineers Officer’s quarters) and Terrace 3 (enslaved Africans’ occupation) show that military personnel and enslaved Africans alike supplemented their rations (i.e. salted fish or barreled pork or beef) with locally obtained foods (i.e. fresh fish and birds). Though Europeans and Africans utilized the same food species, they did so in unique ways. Data gathered from archaeofaunal identifications, skeletal part frequencies, and stable carbon isotope analysis reveal that British diets included fairly even amounts of mammals, birds, and fish, while enslaved Africans relied more heavily on fish and preserved meats. At both sites, low utility elements from caprine indicate that sheep (Ovis) and goats (Capra) were raised locally and slaughtered on the island. This interpretation is less clear for cattle (Bos) and swine (Sus). Fresh-caught fish and birds supplemented the other available sources of protein on St. Kitts such as imported barreled and salted meats. Without materials collected from screens smaller than one-quarter inch, the contribution of these food sources would have been difficult to detect or entirely overlooked. Clearly these interpretations demonstrate the difficulty of adequately sampling the complete faunal community present at a site using only one-quarter inch screen. Likewise, the faunal specimens recovered using screens smaller than one-quarter inch revealed specific cultural practices (e.g. marine zones exploited and fishing methods) that may have been missed without the use of these finer screens. For example, the archaeological fish community reveals consumption patterns indicative of different fishing strategies. This analysis illustrates the potential shortcomings of zooarchaeological research that does not use small screens to recover faunal materials. Further, the faunal material from the Brimstone Hill Site enhances our understanding of the role of this particular military provisioning strategy in the success of European colonization in the Caribbean.
Ramsey, Ann Marie, "Comparative Analysis of the Faunal Remains from British Royal Engineer and Enslaved African Occupations at Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Kitts, West Indies. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2011.