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Port Royal Research Papers

Abstracts from theses and dissertations:

Historical Analysis of Pewter Spoons Recovered from the Sunken City of Port Royal, Jamaica

Cathryn Ann Wadley
Thesis: December 1985
Chair: Hamilton

On June 7, 1692, the Britain merchant city of Port Royal, Jamaica, was struck by a severe earthquake. The earthquake liquified the sand spit on which Port Royal was built, causing approximately three-quarters of the city to sink into the harbor. Houses, shops, markets, and their contents were sealed by a layer of dead coral and silt until the twentieth century when archaeologists began to uncover the sunken city.

This thesis is concerned with the identification of the pewter spoons and spoon fragments recovered from Port Royal. Analysis of the collection has provided information on the type, date, and origin of many of the spoons as well as facts about the inhabitants of Port Royal. This information and data from literature about pewter spoons, has been compiled to formulate a preliminary identification key for identifying and dating pewter spoons from other seventeenth and eighteenth century sites.

Pewter spoon manufacturing, including alloys used, construction of moulds and casting techniques is examined. A catalog of the Port Royal pewter spoon collection, with measurements, photographs, descriptions and parallels to spoons in other collections is provided.

View PDF file of thesis: Wadely-MA1985.pdf

Drinking Glasses from Port Royal, Jamaica, Circa 1660-1850: A Study of Styles and Usage.

Patricia McClenaghan
Thesis: August 1988
Chair: Hamilton

Port Royal, Jamaica, was a wealthy and important trading and slave distribution centre during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Later the town became the bastion of British naval power in the Caribbean.

Maritime and terrestrial archaeological sites in Port Royal have yielded representative artifacts from the town’s various periods of occupation. Among the numerous glass artifacts recovered was an extensive and varied collection of partially-intact drinking glasses. The comprehensive range of types and styles of table glass suggest many uses in a variety of locations, and imply a degree of refinement in material culture seldom associated with a frontier colonial existence. According to stylistic attributes and lead content, most of the glassware is English, manufactured in the late-seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This thesis is concerned with the identification and analysis of the drinking glasses. For comparative purposes, a descriptive catalogue is provided with illustrations. conclusions drawn from the analysis may well provide a fresh perspective of daily life in historic Port Royal.

View PDF file of thesis: McClenaghan-MA1988.pdf

Pewter and Pewterers from Port Royal, Jamaica: Flatware Before 1692

Shirley Gotelipe-Miller
Thesis: August 1990
Chair: Hamilton

Port Royal’s Pewter Collection comprises the worlds largest assemblage of late seventeenth-century pewterware, the earliest examples of English colonial pewter, and the most extensive hoard of pewter artifacts recovered from a single archaeological setting. Over 150 pieces of flatware alone, bearing more than 50 distinct makers’ marks and/or ownership monograms are represented. This important collection holds interest for pewter collectors and archaeologists alike: collectors can gain insight into the sociology surrounding pewter use through archaeological associations; archaeologists can learn more about their site through identification of pewter touchmarks and ownership initials.

The scope of this study was limited to pewter flatware (i.e. plates, bowls and serving dishes) from the Port Royal Pewter Collection. Artifacts recovered by the INA/TAMU excavations were analyzed within their archaeological context, while those salvaged by other groups were used for supportive evidence, and to gain a more global picture of the styles and craftsmen represented by the collection.

Research objectives were the following: 1) to explore the channels through which pewter arrived in Port Royal, and to perhaps gain insight into seventeenth-century commerce between England and her colonies; 2) to use pewter artifacts as a means to understanding Port Royal’s submerged ruins by examining archaeological associations and ownership monograms; 3) to use relevant archival documents to explore the social and economic role pewterers fulfilled in the colonial environment; and 4) to fully document flatware in the collection, establishing guidelines for recording archaeologically recovered pewter.

View PDF file of thesis: Gotelipe-MA1990.pdf

Wrought Iron Hand Tools in Port Royal, Jamaica: A Study Based Upon a Collection of the Tools recovered from Archaeological Excavations and on Tools Listed in the Probate Inventories of Colonial Port Royal, c. 1692

Marianne Franklin
Thesis: May 1992
Chair: Hamilton

This study is based upon the collection of wrought iron hand tools recovered from five archaeological excavations of the city of Port Royal, Jamaica (c. 1692). The excavations took place between 1966 and 1990. Only the tools that are presently housed in the headquarters of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust in Port Royal, Jamaica or are currently being treated in the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas are included in the collection.

The tool collection from Port Royal is unique for several reasons: a) since they were deposited by a catastrophic event there is a complete array of 17th century tools, b) many of the tools are in excellent condition, and c) even the tools that are completely corroded have their detail incredibly well preserved in molds inside calcareous encrustations that were formed due to their deposition in a marine environment. Epoxy cast replicas of tool molds show fine detail and may answer questions about the tool’s use.

Over 100 tools have been recovered so far from the archaeological excavations of Port Royal. The collection’s diversity spans a range from the finely shaped pincer of the shoemaker to the most crudely fashioned chisel. This study documents the tool collection, and examines the collection with the added interpretation of transcribed probate inventories from the parish of Port Royal between 1686-1694 (Volume III) in order to better understand everyday life in a flourishing 17th-century Caribbean mercantile trade center. This study combines the analysis of the archaeological record and the probate inventories to answer questions about the variety of different types of tools available and in common use by the 17th century craftsman in the Caribbean. Though the excavation of the submerged city of Port Royal is by no means complete, it is hoped that this work will provide a significant data base for forthcoming comparative studies on tools of the late 17th century.

View PDF file of thesis: Franklin-MA1992.pdf

Jamaican Red Clay Tobacco Pipes

Kenan Heidtke
Thesis: December 1992
Chair: Hamilton

This thesis is a study of the red clay tobacco pipes which are found in significant numbers on Jamaican archaeological sites dating to the latter half of the 17th century and the early part of the 18th century. Clay tobacco pipes have proved to be an important class of artifacts because of their widespread distribution throughout colonial sites in the New World and the information they can provide concerning the dates of occupation, trade patterns, and the national origin of the people who occupied a particular site.

Pipes of European manufacture have been studied extensively in the last few decades, and this research has helped to increase their value as a tool for gaining information from archaeological sites. While our knowledge of the white European tobacco pipes has grown considerably, research into locally-made earthenware tobacco pipes has only been undertaken in the last few years. These red clay pipes occur at several colonial sites in North America, the Caribbean, and South America.

This thesis will be a detailed study of the red clay pipes found in Jamaica with a special emphasis on pipes recovered from the important English colonial city of Port Royal. Until it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1692, Port Royal was the most important English city in the Caribbean.

The goals of this thesis are: to determine as closely as possible the dates in which these pipes were in use, to identify the place of origin of the pipes, to explain the processes used to produce the pipes, to compile a catalog of the different types of decoration used on the pipes, and to offer possible explanations for the markings and stylistic attributes of the pipes. Locally made earthenware pipes from other colonial sites in the New World will also be examined to identify possible parallels to the Jamaican tobacco pipes.

View PDF file of thesis: Heidtke-MA1992.pdf

The Probate Inventories of Port Royal, Jamaica

Diana Thornton
Thesis: December 1992
Chair: Hamilton

Through archaeology, significant details of past cultures can be recovered. However, lack of preservation, salvaging, and intangible items create gaps in the archaeological data and restrict the scope of study.

Any analytical focus in historical archaeology should, therefore, include supplemental sources such as documentary evidence, oral history, and pictorial evidence. This approach allows the historical archaeologist to examine a site on a much deeper level and from different perspectives. The documentary evidence associated with a site provides information unattainable from the archaeological record–names, dates, possessions, rooms, houses, events, financial and social links–in short, the history behind the artifacts. It would be foolish not to take full advantage of this resource. Historical archaeology, then, is the study of all remains, not just those that come from the ground, and the intertwining of archaeological data with the relevant written record.

Through the analysis of the probate inventories, this thesis augments our knowledge and understanding of the material culture and social history of seventeenth-century Port Royal. It also demonstrates the importance of a multi-faceted approach to archaeology beyond the material environment. Secondarily, it acts as a guide to the content and worth of the Jamaica probate inventories for future studies and correlation with the archaeological data.

View PDF file of thesis: Thornton-MA1992.pdf

An Analysis of the Port Royal Shipwreck and Its Role in the Maritime History of Seventeenth-Century Port Royal, Jamaica.

Sheila Clifford
Thesis: May 1993
Chair: Hamilton

During the 1989 and 1990 seasons of Texas A&M University’s underwater archaeological field school at Port Royal, Jamaica, a shipwreck was excavated as it lay amidst the submerged remains of a 17th-century building.

There were several noteworthy construction features evident on this shipwreck. The majority of the extant structure of the vessel was constructed of white oak while the keel was of slippery elm, a species native to the eastern half of North America. The keel of this vessel had only simple chamfered upper edges, against which the garboards lay, and had at least one scarf joint, the flat of which was in the vertical plain. None of the frame elements (floors and first futtocks) were laterally fastened and the first futtocks were offset from the keel by a distance of over one foot.

The relatively small artifact collection recovered from the wreck included fasteners, rigging elements, a shot gauge, barshot, various sizes of iron and lead shot, tobacco pipes, glass stemware fragments, ceramics, and tools.

The artifact collection, various construction features, and a Carbon-14 date place the date of this vessel’s construction in the last quarter of the 17th century; furthermore, an English or Dutch port of origin is suggested.

This vessel must have been a part of the large scale, intricate, and lucrative maritime activity conducted out of 17-century Port Royal, Jamaica. Particularly, the Port Royal shipwreck bears some striking similarities to the H.M.S. Swan, a small Fifth Rate English warship of Dutch origin that was being careened, or repaired, at the time of the earthquake. The Swan was ripped from the careenage wharf by seismic sea waves associated with the earthquake, and carried into the sinking town where she came to rest in the midst of a Mr. Pike’s house.

While this shipwreck cannot be positively identified, the excavation and recording of the wreck have nonetheless contributed information to the extremely small body of knowledge available concerning 17th-century ship construction.

View PDF file of thesis: Clifford-MA1993.pdf

The Analysis of 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-Century Ceramics from Port Royal, Jamaica for Lead Release: A Study in Archaeotoxicology

Tommy Hailey
Dissertation: August 1994
Chair: Hamilton

The concern over lead poisoning in modern times has, in turn, influenced many archaeologists and historians to investigate the ways in which exposure to lead may have affected populations in the past. Researchers interested in past lead poisoning have primarily used historical records and skeletal analyses in attempting to study this problem, while artifactual analyses have been largely ignored. In investigating the potential for contributions to lead poisoning in past populations, however, artifacts have the potential to yield a great deal of information.

There are many types of lead-containing artifacts, but lead-glazed ceramics were one of the most common historically. For this reason, lead-glazed ceramics were chosen for lead-release analysis. Initial test on archaeologically-recovered sherds from Port Royal, Jamaica, indicated that substantial amounts of lead could be released by these ceramics.

Experiments with ceramic tiles of equal glazed surface area demonstrated a predictable relationship between the volume of solution in which the tile was immersed and the glazed surface area. This relationship permitted the prediction of lead release for different volume/surface area ratios, which can be used to simulate different sized ceramic vessels, from a single sherd.

Additional tests with solutions of different pH and with varying temperatures provided information on the effects of these variables. This information was used to devise a predictive strategy for estimating lead release according to different uses of ceramic vessels, such as cooking or storage of different foods.

These tests provide the framework for lead release extrapolations from any lead-glazed sherd, as well as the basis for developing methods of testing other lead-based artifacts.

View PDF file of thesis: Hailey-MA1994.pdf

Analysis of the Weight Assemblage of Port Royal, Jamaica

C. Wayne Smith
Dissertation: May 1995

The assemblage of weights recovered from excavations at Port Royal, Jamaica, is the largest collection of 17th-century weights recovered from a single colonial site. On June 7, 1692, just shortly before noon, an earthquake shook the community of Port Royal, and in a matter of minutes, due to a process known as liquefaction, approximately 32 acres of the colonial port community sank below the waters of Kingston Harbor. To date, 90 weights have been recovered from nautical and terrestrial excavations at the site. Many of these bear the stamps and ciphers of English trade guilds, as well as owners’ marks and regal stamps of authority. Several weights in the collection also bear a mark in the shape of a dagger, or sword, which is associated with the City of London.

Bronze and lead weights bearing cipher stamps offer a unique opportunity for archaeological and historical investigation. Combining data from archaeological excavations with information from wills, probate inventories, and data from a comparative assemblage known as the Streeter Collection, will result in a multidisciplinary analysis of local and long-distance trade and commercial patterns in colonial Jamaica. From a microperspective, this analysis will contribute to the broader understanding of life and economic activities within the excavated area of the colonial port community. From a macro perspective, analysis of the weights should corroborate reforms in English law regarding the economic necessity for standardization of weights. Analysis of weight iconography suggests differences in mind-set that may have contributed in placing England apart from other European countries, in an advantageous position to become a leading economic force in the 17th century.

View PDF file of thesis: Smith-MA1995.pdf

Chinese Porcelain and Seventeenth-Century Port Royal, Jamaica

Helen Catherine Dewolf
Dissertation: May 1998
Chair: Hamilton

This dissertation examines 17th-century Chinese porcelain found in Port Royal, Jamaica, during the various land and underwater excavations carried out since the late 1950s. The focus of the study is on the artifacts recovered during the underwater excavations conducted from 1981-1990 by Texas A&M University, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. The presence of the porcelain artifacts, their type, their use, and their exportation into Europe and the New World are discussed.

The possible significance of the location and association of these artifacts within the archaeological remains of the 17th-century city of Port Royal is also explored. Ultimately this dissertation presents conclusions as to the trade networks used to bring porcelain to Port Royal, Jamaica, and the possible reflection status these artifacts may exhibit.

The role of the documentary evidence found in the Jamaica Archives, as well as records available from contemporaneous trade centers is also addressed. Journals, diaries, and letters of various individuals of the period supplement the written and archaeological records to provide the personal observations of those associated with trade, politics, and daily life in the 17th century.

A comparison of the various types of ceramics found in the Port Royal excavations and an analysis of the contemporaneous documentary records of Jamaica assist in providing a context in which to view the Chinese porcelain artifacts found. The wills and inventories of numerous inhabitants of Jamaica, in general, and Port Royal, specifically, provide the majority of documentary evidence researched.

View PDF file of thesis: Dewolf-MA1998.pdf

The Bronze Age Objects from Tel Nami, Israel: Their Conservation and Implications for Ancient Metallurgy in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Georgia Lynne Fox
Thesis: August 1991
Chair: Hamilton

This thesis investigates the conservation of bronze objects from Tel Nami, Israel. Since Tel Nami is located on the Mediterranean coast, two problems are central to this investigation: the destructive nature of cuprous chloride from seawater inundation, and the stabilization of the bronze artifacts from subsequent corrosion attack.
An examination of the internal structure of metal and Bronze Age metallurgy technology of copper and its alloys provides a basis for understanding how corrosion operates in ancient metal. Furthermore, this study examines the unique combination of factors which comprise a marine coastal site in order to determine how they contribute to in-situ corrosion processes. The final assessment of the conservation project includes a discussion of the methodology and current existing technology. This is followed by the utility of conservation in providing important diagnostic information about artifacts and implications for future research.

View PDF file of thesis: Fox-MA1991.pdf

Analysis of the Hollowware Pewter From Port Royal, Jamaica.

Debra Lynn Winslow, B.A., The University of Kansas
Thesis: August 2000
Chair: Dr. Donny L. Hamilton

Over the past forty years an enormous collection of pewter artifacts has been recovered from the various archaeological excavations at Port Royal, Jamaica, both on land and underwater (Link 1960; Marx 1971; Priddy 1975; Hamilton 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988). Since pewter is rarely found in most archaeological excavations the recovery of, what has come to represent, the largest single collection of 17th century pewter from a single site is of special significance. These pewter artifacts, most of them recovered in their primary archaeological context, preserved countless aspects of daily life in 17th century Port Royal. Pewter, like ceramics, possesses distinctive diagnostic characteristics which provide information concerning the maker and/or owner of the pewter, the use of the pewter, and the date and place of manufacture.

The focus of this study is the pewter hollowware recovered from the excavations conducted by Robert Marx (1967, 1968,1971,1973) and the INA/TAMU excavations directed by Donny Hamilton (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988). Approximately 269 pewter artifacts were recovered from these excavations which included spoons, flatware, hollowware, and miscellaneous pewter. The inclusion of the Marx artifacts allows for a consistency in the analysis of the pewter and of the historical records.

The main objective of this study is to compile a catalog of the hollowware which records the form and style of each piece, as well as any diagnostic characteristics. A secondary objective is to analyze 17th century probate inventories from Port Royal for information concerning pewter ownership and usage. The third objective is to relate patterns of pewter usage to primary motivation for settlement at Port Royal. This is accomplished by comparing and contrasting the Port Royal probate data with data provided by 17th century probate inventories from Boston, Massachusetts, and Mainland, Jamaica.

View PDF file of thesis: Winslow-MA2000.pdf

Household Ceramics at Port Royal, Jamaica, 1655-1692: The Building 4/5 Assemblage

Madeleine J. Donachie
Dissertation: August 2001
Chair: Dr. Donny L. Hamilton

From 1981 to 1990, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), in conjunction with Texas A&M University (TAMU) and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, excavated a portion of the underwater English colonial city of Port Royal in Jamaica. Port Royal, an important international commercial center in the late 17th century, was destroyed in 1692 by an earthquake, which sank over half of the city beneath the waters of Kingston Bay. The INA/TAMU investigation has resulted in an extensive collection of artifacts and other material remains contemporary with the disaster.

This study examines the ceramic inventory of one of the most fully excavated buildings in the heart of old Port Royal. As household wares, the pottery vessels recovered from the site provide important data on the customs and standard of living of the building’s occupants. By extension, they reveal certain social aspects of the town as a whole and provide information about the kinds of material goods that were available to New World colonial settlers at the end of the 17th century.

Minimum vessel counts, by ceramic ware, form and functional classification, are the basis for the analysis. The assemblage is looked at in the general context of all of the ceramics recovered from the Port Royal site as investigated by INA/TAMU. It is also compared with similarly well-dated groups from two external, non-Jamaican sites. English pottery inventories from the 17th century and household probate inventories from Port Royal are examined to cast light on ceramic usage and markets. Social commentaries of the period and northern European paintings of interior scenes provide a snapshot of the everyday roles of ceramic vessels.

View PDF file of thesis: Donachie-MA2001.pdf

Analysis and Reconstruction of Impermanent Structures of the 17th and 18th Centuries

Glenn Darrington
Thesis: May 1994
Chair: Hamilton

Impermanent architecture was a major technology used to construct shelter in the Americas during the 17th and 18th centuries. Why these construction methods were employed instead of more permanent ones is a question historical archaeologists have been trying to answer since the 1970s. Because of their impermanent nature, only a small number of 17th and 19th century structures have survived, creating a gap in the archaeological record. This missing data must be replaced with other sources of information, such as carpentry handbooks of the period and historical accounts that describe the form and function of these dwellings.

The use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) technology, combined with a knowledge of impermanent building techniques assists in recording, manipulating, and displaying architectural data. This method has been used to reconstruct three historic buildings. Each of these structures represents a stage in the settlement process which was used by early colonists to survive and succeed in the New World.

Earlier methods of recording site data have been compared with more modern methods possible with CAD technology. These new methods have shown that more information can be gathered, manipulated, and displayed than was previously possible. Computer Aided Design technology has opened new doors of opportunity for researchers who try and recreate the historic pasts.

View PDF file of thesis: Darrington-MA1994.pdf