SAS Honors Program

Will count towards SAS - Anthropology major and minor.


Historical Archaeology of Slavery covers the period of European contact, world-wide, from 900-1850 AD when European nations expanded their maritime empires to the New World, Africa and Asia. It encompasses the Age of Mercantile Capitalism, where plantations were established in overseas colonies and where the trans-Atlantic slave trade evolved to provide a massive labor force. The demographic consequences of these processes included relocation of millions of African and Asian people, the decimation of indigenous societies, and the disappearance of medieval lifeways as the rise of capitalism bred the cities and slums of the modern world.

This course will cover the importance of colonial slavery in America and Africa, a topic that transforms the way we view our shared past. Historians have been in the forefront of this venture for decades, but recently, historical archaeologists have cast new light on the hidden transcripts of slavery. A recent documentary explores the impact of Abolition on Afro-Caribbean slaves and their British owners. Closer to home, Mark Leone’s excavations at the plantation home of Frederick Douglass, reveal not only the daily life of slaves but also the blended Christian-African roots of the AME church below the floors of their cabins. Excavations of burial grounds in Barbados, New York City, and Cape Town use genetic and stable isotopic analyses to identify slaves, to trace their lineages, and to pinpoint their surviving traditions. Excavations in Annapolis reveal a ghostly palimpsest of African beliefs in association with the shining city that they helped build. Most recently, Rutgers has revealed the contribution of slaves to the very core of the present University itself: their findings await archaeological input.

Such studies will introduce students to a wide variety of written and visual sources, both archeological and historical, as well as to the large collection of colonial-era artifacts housed in the Department of Anthropology. They will also become familiar with the tools of scientific archaeology including forensic science, DNA analysis, and stable isotopic studies. Students will engage in class discussion and present brief PowerPoint presentations showing the interplay of written texts and archaeological finds. In addition to short summaries of topics raised, they will be asked to write a term paper on a selected topic within this course. The course may include a class field trip to Professor Mark Leone’s archaeological sites in Maryland, to introduce students to the archaeology of slavery. See


CARMEL SCHRIRE has practical experience in both archives and the archaeological field, including published work on slavery in South Africa, as well as a close familiarity with recent excavations in the US.


Nelson Biological Labs
Room A-110
P 848-445-3912


Milledoler Hall
Room 12
P 848-932-1406


Ruth Adams Building
Suite 108 
P 848-932-2011


Lucy Stone Hall
Room A-201
P 848-445-3206


100 Rockafeller Rd
Rm. 1031
P 848-445-3206

CAC Main Office

35 College Avenue