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Description of Site
Continuity
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Shadows
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African Retentions and Symbolism
Cabins

 

Levi Jordan
Plantation

Shadows? Can we tell where the furniture and walls once were?

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.

There are 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 rooms today).

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