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The "Shell and Bone Carver's Cabin"

Robert N. Harris

This is Robert sitting at one the UH Anthropology Department's computers, where he spends most of his time!

The area being discussed here is shaded in gray.

Introduction
by Carol McDavid

Robert Harris is currently a student at the University of Houston, and, working under the supervision of Ken Brown, is doing research on the "Shell Carver's Cabin". He delivered a paper on his research at the January, 1998 meetings of the Society for Historical Archaeology. It was entitled "Shell Carving and Self- reliance in an African American Plantation Community" – that paper (and a short synopsis of it) is included here.

Also included is a transcript of an interview with Robert, in which he describes how he is approaching some specific questions about the materials left in this living area. The interview took place in the summer of 1998, about 7 months after Robert delivered the paper mentioned above. Therefore, the interview represents a later phase of his research. If you read both, you may see some changes in how his ideas developed over a period of time.

Robert's research on this part of the Jordan site will culminate in the completion of his master's degree thesis, which should be finished before the end of 1998. He has just taken a full-time job as the Curator of Collections at the George Historical Ranch, however, and that will no doubt slow his research down a bit!

Both the interview and the paper include some of the charts and drawings he used to develop his interpretations. You can look at those first (the links are listed below), to see some of the data BEFORE you read the interpretations of it. Links are also provided to this data from within the interview text, and from within the paper. Some of these charts and drawings already have some "built-in" interpretations – please comment on them if you like.

The interview presented is an edited version of the original transcript. I edited out some conversational sidetracking and "chit-chat", but both Robert and I think that what's presented here fairly represents the conversation we had. Even though all images included in this transcript are less than 100 K each, it is a long document, and may take a few minutes to come up on your screen.

It is very unusual for an archaeologist to share the tentative, provisional results of his research the way that Robert (and Ken) have done here. If you have questions about these preliminary conclusions, they would like to hear from you, and we would like to know the question too – so please send an email to klbrown@uh.edu or mcdavid@publicarchaeology.org.

So, if you want to see some of Robert's data BEFORE you read the interpretations of it, go directly to:

Quantities of Artifacts in 5S/55W

Artifact Types in 5S/55W

Tools in "Shell and Bone Carver's Cabin" associated with carved shell and bone

Classification system used at Jordan Plantation

Page of unit notes taken during excavation

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Carol McDavid 1998