CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE PAST
This carved shell "cameo" was found in the slave quarters of this plantation, and was made by one of the people who lived there. See "Shell Carver's Cabin" for more details.
sometimes areas of space in which no artifacts are
located, next to clusters of artifacts arranged in ways
that suggest certain things. We call those areas of empty
space "shadows" (some people just call them
"artifact contexts", which
is also fine with us...but by the word "shadow"
we mean a very specific absence of
artifacts in a given area). In some cases, artifacts seem
to be clustered nearby long, very narrow
"shadows" which extend from one exterior brick
wall to another these shadows could be showing us
where interior wooden walls used to exist (the artifacts
nearby would have been pushed up against the original
walls, just as most of us arrange our possessions in our
In other cases, these shadows indicate where furniture might have been. In one cabin, a large empty space, about 5-6 feet long, exists right next to one of the "wall shadows", described above. It is possible that this space was once occupied by a bed, since the artifacts nearby (where the head of the bed would have been ) include items such as eyeglasses.
So do we know "for sure" where the furniture and walls were? Of course not. But we know enough to ask more questions to look at the patterns even more closely, to measure the intervals where the "wall shadows" appear, and so on. One example of this kind of up-close examination of patterns is in Robert Harris' work on the "Shell and Bone Carver's Cabin". At some point in the future we will include sketches, drawn during excavation, of these shadows and artifact clusters, and you can decide for yourself if you see them too.
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‹ Carol McDavid 1998