Sugar Factory in the Colonial West Indies: an Archaeological and Historical Comparative Analysis

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    Authors & editors

    Meide, Chuck [Author]

    Publisher College of William and Mary
    Year of publication 2003 -

    Medium Digital

    Food (non-cereal) processes > Sugar


    Scope & contentSugar production facilities, while all sharing certain characteristics necessary for their common objective, underwent a wide range of innovation and variation, based on such factors as geographical location, temporal period, physical setting, technological evolution, available resources, simple expediency, and the nationality of and influences upon the planter engaging in the operation.

    In order to gain insight into how these early industrial complexes were laid out and managed, I have turned to evidence in both the historical and archaeological records. Using data from historical maps, paintings, correspondence, and treatises, along with an increasing body of archaeological data from Caribbean plantation sites, I have compiled a sample of 27 sugar processing sites—Dutch, English, Danish, Spanish, and French—and generated a database with 242 defined variables related to the spatial layout, physical attributes, dimensions, building material, cultural parameters, and other aspects of the West Indian sugar production facility.

    In the remainder of this paper, I provide a brief overview of the development of the sugar industry in the Caribbean and the processes of sugar planting, harvesting, and manufacturing. The remainder of the paper will present the preliminary quantitative analysis of my sugar factory database.

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