M.A. Theses: Alexis Ohman, 2014

Saltfish vs. Parrotfish:  The Role of Fish and Mollusks in English Colonial Foodways at Betty's Hope Plantation, Antiqua, West Indies

One of the most quintessential components of colonial Caribbean foodways is imported saltfish. However, there has been little historical zooarchaeological research addressing the potential roles and values of fish and mollusks in English colonial foodways, particularly the local species. Betty’s Hope plantation in Antigua, British West Indies, has a substantial collection of historical archives called the Codrington Papers, which provides the basis for understanding the site’s historical daily life. This research employs an analysis of these archives compared to the fish and mollusk remains recovered from the site’s zooarchaeological assemblage, with the intention of understanding the extent to which local fish and mollusk resources were utilized. Despite the emphasis on saltfish in the archives and the almost total absence of references to mollusks, the zooarchaeological assemblage was dominated by local tropical fish taxa rather than imported saltfish. This not only informs on the types of fish consumed on the plantation, but also demonstrates selection preferences and practices between the Great House and the middle-class outbuildings that will contribute to the overall understanding of plantation foodways and daily life in the colonial Caribbean.

Keywords: Historical zooarchaeology; foodways; Caribbean; fish; mollusks; Betty’s Hope