Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Cist graves on Saba: funerary traditions in the colonial Caribbean

  • Ryan Espersen (a1) and Jay Haviser (a2)

Abstract

Stone cist graves dating to the Bronze Age through to the late medieval period are well attested across Western Europe. In the Americas, such cist graves are found only on the island of Saba in the Dutch Caribbean. First starting in the colonial period, this funerary practice continues on Saba to the present day, representing a cultural continuity with rural seventeenth-century populations—probably settlers from the British Isles. This article discusses the recent excavation of several cist burials on Saba, their structural forms and their relevance for understanding cultural continuity in the Caribbean of the historical period.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence (Email: director@sabarc.org)

References

Hide All
Anonymous. 1773. Letter from Saban heads of households to the Dutch West Indies Company. Dutch National Archives 1.05.06.13 #1151. The Hague: Dutch National Archives.
Armstrong, D. & Fleischmann, M.L.. 2003. House-yard burials of enslaved laborers in eighteenth-century Jamaica. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 7: 3365. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1023227303302
Blouet, H.C. 2013. Interpretations of burial and commemoration in Moravian and African diasporas on St John, Virgin Islands. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 17: 731–81. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-013-0241-2
Brown, V. 2010. The reaper's garden: death and power in the world of Atlantic slavery. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
Cherryson, A., Crossland, Z. & Tarlow, S.. 2012. A fine and private place: the archaeology of death and burial in post-medieval Britain and Ireland. Leicester: University of Leicester Press.
Courtaud, P. 2013. Le cimetière, comme miroir de l'esclavage: approche archéologique. Le cimetière d'Anse Sainte-Marguerite (Guadeloupe). In Situ: Revue des Patrimoines 20(2013). https://doi.org/10.4000/insitu.10092
Courtaud, P., Delpuech, A. & Romon, T.. 1999. Archeological investigations at colonial cemeteries on Guadeloupe: African slave burial sites or not?, in Haviser, J. (ed.) African sites: archeology in the Carribbean: 277–90. Princeton (NJ): Markus Wiener.
Crane, J. 1971. Educated to emigrate: the social organization of Saba. Assen: Van Gorcum.
Crane, J. 1989. Statia silhouettes. New York: Vantage.
Espersen, R. 2017. ‘Better than we’: landscapes and materialities of race, class, and gender in pre-emancipation colonial Saba, Dutch Caribbean. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Leiden University.
Espersen, R. 2018. From Hell's gate to the Promised Land: perspectives of poverty on Saba, Dutch Caribbean, 1780 to mid 20th-century. Historical Archaeology 53: 773–97.
Espersen, R. & Haviser, J.. 2018. SB 037, the Fort Gut Ridge site: an archaeological survey and limited excavations. Unpublished Saba Archaeological Center site report.
France, J. 1846. La vérité et les faits de l'esclavage à nu: dans ses rapports avec les maîtres et les agents de l'autorité, avec pièces justificatives. Paris: Chez Moreau.
Fricke, F. 2016. Skeletal report: the Fort Bay Ridge site (SB 037), BF1 (individuals 1 and 2). Unpublished Saba Archaeological Center site report.
Fricke, F. 2019. The lifeways of enslaved people in Curacao, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten/St. Martin: a thematic analysis of archaeological, osteological, and oral historical data. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Kent.
Gilmore, J.K. 2008. Leprosy at the Lazaretto on St Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 18: 7284. https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.929
Handler, J.S. 1997. An African-type healer/diviner and his grave goods: a burial from a plantation slave cemetery in Barbados, West Indies. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 1: 91130. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1027355822317
Handler, J.S. & Lange, F.W.. 1978. Plantation slavery in Barbados: an archaeological and historical investigation. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press. https://doi.org/10.4159/harvard.9780674332362
Hartog, J. 1975. History of Saba. Curaçao: Van Guilder.
Hassell, H. 1873. Bill of sale of land from William James Benjamin Hassell to Lt Governor Moses Leverock, in Saba Vendue Book, 1816–1873: 204. Saba: Saba Planning Bureau.
Haviser, J. 2006. Archaeological excavations of a 19th century Dutch priest of the Dominican Order, buried on St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles. Unpublished site report. St Maarten: St Maarten Archaeological Center.
Haviser, J. 2017. White burials at Emilio Wilson Estate, St Maarten, Dutch Caribbean. Unpublished site report. St Maarten: St Maarten Archaeological Center.
Johnson, W. 2014. Saban lore: tales from my grandmother's pipe. Self published.
Laffoon, J., Rojas, R. Varácel & Hofman, C.. 2012. Oxygen and carbon isotope analysis of human dental enamel from the Caribbean: implications for investigating individual origins. Archaeometry 55: 742–65. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.2012.00698.x
Laffoon, J., Espersen, R. & Mickleburgh, H.. 2018a. Life history of an enslaved African: multiple isotope evidence for forced childhood migration from Africa to the Caribbean and associated dietary change. Archaeometry 60: 350–65. https://doi.org/10.1111/arcm.12354
Laffoon, J., Fricke, F., Espersen, R. & Hoogland, M.L.P. 2018b. Unforgotten: osteobiography of an enslaved woman from eighteenth century Saba. Unpublished research paper, Caribbean Research Group. Leiden: Leiden University.
Lenik, S. 2004. Historical archaeological approaches to Afro-Cruzan identity at Estate Lower Bethlehem, St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Unpublished MA dissertation, Columbia, University of South Carolina.
Miller, G., Samford, P., Shasko, E. & Madsen, A.. 2000. Telling time for archaeologists. Northeast Historical Archaeology 29(2): 222. https://doi.org/10.22191/neha/vol29/iss1/2
Ó’Carragáin, T. 2010. Churches in early medieval Ireland: architecture, ritual and memory. New Haven (CT): Yale University Press.
Ogundiran, A. & Saunders, P.. 2014. Materialities of ritual in the Black Atlantic. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.
Riordan, T.B. & Mitchell, R.M.. 2011. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century brick-lined graves: their construction and chronology. Historical Archaeology 45: 91101. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03377307
Rogers, D. 2015. Voix d'esclaves: Antilles, Guyane et Louisiane françaises, xviiie–xixe siècles. Paris: Éditions Karthala.
Rojas, R.V. 2016. Archaeology of early colonial interaction at El Chorro de Maíta, Cuba. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.
Schroeder, H., Haviser, J. & Price, T.D.. 2012. The Zoutsteeg three: three new cases of African types of dental modification from Saint Martin, Dutch Caribbean. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24: 668–96. https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.2253
Turner, G. 2018. Honoring ancestors in sacred space. Gainesville: University of Florida Press. https://doi.org/10.5744/florida/9781683400202.001.0001
Watters, D.R. 1994. Mortuary patterns at the Harney Site slave cemetery, Montserrat, in Caribbean perspective. Historical Archaeology 28: 5673. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03374190

Keywords

Cist graves on Saba: funerary traditions in the colonial Caribbean

  • Ryan Espersen (a1) and Jay Haviser (a2)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed