MAROON HERITAGE ARCHAEOLOGICAL
RESEARCH IN JAMAICA
THE ROOTS OF MHRP WAS IN JAMAICA
Since 1989 archaeological investigation into the heritage of the Maroons, groups of people who escaped from slavery and formed independent communities and pioneered struggle against slavery in the New World, was initiated by the University of the West Indies. Established and directed by E. Kofi Agorsah, the Moulton Barrett Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of the West Indies, the project has undertaken archaeological surveys, mapping and excavation of Maroon sites in Jamaica and Suriname. The research project was initially dubbed UWI Mona Archaeological Research Project (UMARP) and later Maroon Heritage Research Project (MHRP). The main objective of the project is to identify, through archaeological investigation, supported by ethnographic evidence, cultural responses of the Maroons to transformations in ecological, political, social and economic conditions occurring in the New World during colonial times. It was a completely new approach toward the reconstruction of the heritage of the Maroons shifting the search from the use of only historical and oral evidence with all their inherent uncertainties to the use of evidence of material culture derived from archaeological explorations. The project also focused on the reconstruction of the processes of the formation and transformation of Maroon heritage. In addition to general data collection on site distribution in the Caribbean and the Americas, the project has so far conducted investigations in Jamaica generally and specifically at the sites of: Nanny Town, Marshall's Hall, Old Accompong and Seaman's Valley and located a host of others in the Blue Mountains and the Cockpit areas of Jamaica. Additional ethnographic data on Maroon warfare, political and social systems, herbal medicine and other aspects of Maroon heritage have been and will continue to be collected at subsequent stages of the project.
The MHRP project is the first of its kind of research on the archaeology of Maroon heritage in the New World, and the support received from Universities, individuals, and other research institutions in the Caribbean and North America has been enormous, resulting in the accumulation of a large body and a wide range of data in the laboratories of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica and the Suriname National Museum in Paramaribo. It involves field mapping, excavation and analysis of cultural material and publication of the research data. Although earlier phases of the project in Jamaica confirmed the partnership of enslaved Africans and Amerindians in freedom-fighting, questions regarding socio-spatial relationships, and the formation and transformations of Maroon settlements and culture remain unanswered.
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. (read more)
Nanny of the Maroons
Nanny of the Maroons of Jamaica, affectionately known as Grandee Nanny (Grandy Nanny) was an eighteenth century Jamaican woman warrior, who led the Maroons, escaped slaves to fight the British forces to a military stalemate.......(read more)
Old Town Accompong
The site of Old Accompong with its tropical karst and unique vegetation of the Cockpit country is said to have seen wars in which the Maroons set an unprecedented example to the world by successfully engaging the seemingly invincible British army to a military stalemate. (read more)
The Seaman's Valley site of Jamaica is one of the very few known sites in Jamaica in which, for the first time, the Maroons came into open combat with colonial military. The colonial military force was the largest ever sent against the Maroons, yet it suffered total annihilation. The eighteenth century site was not only a battle site, but also, and perhaps more importantly, a Maroon contact zone. (read more)
Tribute to Sam Bandara
Sam Bandara, served as Field Director of the Maroon Heritage Research Project (MHRP) since 1991 and has been the brain behind the successes of the Maroon Heritage Research Project (MHRP) in Jamaica and Suriname. Sam helped pioneer the MHRP research from the very first archaeological reconnaissance and survey of the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. (read more)
Scott Hall Maroons
Scott Hall, located in the hills along the Wag water and Flint River, is a vibrant Maroon community with a strong African heritage. This community has continued to offer protection to many prominent families in the parish of St Mary. Scott’s Hall was a Maroon splinter settlement to the south of Nanny Town as surveyed in the 1760s. The present Chief, Colonel Prehay continues to promote typical African cultural traditions among the Scott’s Hall Maroons. An important site in the Scott’s Hall area has been named by the MHRP as “Konkonsacietful” which was supposed to be the trial location of Maroons who committed crimes in the society.