In January 2015, we conducted a phase I archaeological survey at the Christiansted National Historic Site to find the remains of the royal slave quarters housed within the old courtyard of the Danish West India and Guinea Company Warehouse. In July 2015, we conducted a phase II investigation conducted a phase II investigation targeting the 1780 “Negro Houses”(Neger Huuser in Danish) and 1803 “ New Negro Chambers” (Nye Neger Kammer), formerly housed within the Danish West India and Guinea Company Warehouse building (here after Company Warehouse). These historic structures were utilized by enslaved Afro-Caribbean peoples who worked in the urban center of Christiansted as property of the King of Denmark. This research is a continuation of previous archaeological investigations conducted at the Christiansted National Historic Site (Cissel 2000; Hardy 2011; Lawson et al. 2004; Odewale et al 2015; and Torres 2014). However, this project is the first to focus exclusively on the living and working conditions of the enslaved community residing within the walls of the Company Warehouse. The archaeological fieldwork was carried out for two-weeks in January and four-weeks in July in partnership with the National Park Service cultural resource management team, Youth Conservation Core, and community volunteers. We dug a total of 21 shovel tests and three 1 x 1 meter unit squares resulting in over 4,000 artifacts, which are currently being analyzed at the University of Tulsa by Doctoral researcher Alicia Odewale.
From the most recent excavation in July, we recovered approximately 3,696 artifacts, including brick (N=236, W=6851.27g), coral (N=146, W=7164.43g), charcoal (N=245, W=369.12g), ceramics and pottery (N=391, W=2043.69g), pipestems (N=24, W=27.62g ), metal (N=742, W=6737.817g), glass (N=896, W=5437.79g), shell (N=529, W=4085.74g), lithic material (N=261, W=11698.99) and faunal remains (N=109, W=155.09).
The new cultural resources uncovered during this Phase II excavation, allows park management, researchers, and the local Crucian community to gain a better understanding of the living and working conditions, daily activities, eating habits, and cultural patterns of the “royal slaves” living in the urban center of Christiansted. This new research, within the grounds of CNHS, is expanding our understanding of the African Diaspora to include a more complete story of the Afro-Caribbean royal warehouse slaves and the urban slave experience removed from the traditional plantation environment.
Here are a few of my favorite artifacts recovered from the royal slave quarters in Christiansted.
Check out more artifacts from the Christiansted National Historic Site Here.
Visit the park’s official website here.