chapter  19
12 Pages

Medium vessels and the Longue Dureé: The endurance of ritual ceramics and the archaeology of the African Diaspora

As research into the dynamic social environment o f the African Diaspora has expanded, archaeologists have frequently attempted to identify items or categories of material culture that could be used as “calling cards” to conclusively demonstrate the presence of persons of African heritage on historic-era sites. This admirable goal was spearheaded by researchers who became increasingly aware that historians, folklorists, cultural anthropologists, and others were identifying material culture that could be argued, and in some cases demonstrated, to have West African antecedents (Herskovits 1941; Vlach 1976; Joyner 1984; Thompson 1993; Rosengarten 1994; Goucher 1999). These items of African inspiration included basketry, carvings, textile traditions, aspects of foodways, and architecture, to name a few. Yet, from the perspective of an archaeologist, most o f these artifacts are less than ideal for they will not survive except in extraordinary circumstances.