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Nanny Town

The site that has attracted much attention in Jamaica is Nanny Town, one of the few known most important strongholds of the Jamaican Maroons. It is located in the heart of the Blue Mountains on a fairly level but well-protected mountain-side area. In the early nineties the site has seen a series of reconnaissance and excavations and several preliminary reports have emerged (Agorsah 1994) that demonstrate the importance of that site. Excavations at the site yielded over four thousand artifacts including local earthenware, local and imported smoking pipe stems and bowls, grinding stones, wine and pharmaceutical bottles, fragments of gun barrel, musket balls of various sizes, coins, fragments of lead, iron knives, beads, brass buttons, nails and glass. Some of the artifacts, particularly, those from the lowest of the three levels appear to be prehistoric and, therefore, considered to be prehistoric.

Clay figurines and coin finds confirm that prehistoric groups may have inhabited parts of the island during the Spanish control of the island an when the British took over the island in 1665. It is a clear indication that prehistoric people, claimed by some to have long since been exterminated, were still around. That level appears to predate Maroon presence in the area and is represented by a mixture or local ceramics, shell and stone artifacts, such as beads and flint. The second level, provisionally referred to as the Maroon phase contains ceramics, much of which is local and includes grinding stones and a considerable quantity of charcoal, gun flints, fragments of gun barrel, musket balls, iron nails, a red clay and several kaolin smoking pipe bowls and stems, green and clear glass bottle fragments. This phase probably dates to between 1655 and 1734. The third phase was represented by a stone fortification and an engraved stone. The archaeological evidence from Nanny Town made it possible to link the Maroons to their Amerindian connections in clear stratigraphic evidence although the nature and process of the evolution of the settlement remain unclear (Agorsah 1994). These archaeological data along with evidence from the significant site of Guanaboa Vale in the hilly Juan de Bolas have helped to document the appearance of African-indigenous interactions through the seventeenth century, thus substantiating colonial records, and suggesting the foundation of geographical and other local knowledge that must have been transmitted among the earliest Maroon generations.


Spanish coin-1668


Nanny Town and Seaman’s Valley Sites

Pre-Maroon Ceramics and Pre-Maroon clay figurines

European medical supplies

______ Dr. Agorsah acknowledges the generous support of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica National Heritage Trust, The Wenner-Gren Foundation For Anthropological Research, Earthwatch and Center For Field Research, and the Archaeological Society of Jamaica.