Amy L. Rubenstein Gottschamer
ARTIFACT ANALYSIS FOR THE READER'S POINT VESSEL: A LATE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY MERCHANT SHIP FROM ST. ANN'S BAY, JAMAICA.
(Under the direction of Professor Gordon P. Watts, Jr.) Department of History, December 1995.
The Reader's Point vessel is located in St. Ann's Bay on the north shore of Jamaica. It was found during the 1991 season of the Columbus Caravels Archaeological Project, while searching for the last two ships sailed by Christopher Columbus. The Reader's Point sloop was found by remote sensing techniques along with five other derelict vessels, probably from a comparable period. This particular vessel was chosen for investigation because of its unique construction, specifically its radial cant frames. A complete analysis of the artifact assemblage was deemed as valuable as a thorough study of the vessel's fabrication.
The remains of the Reader's Point vessel in St. Ann's Bay held a significant, yet typical artifact assemblage. The anaerobic environment provided by sediment covering the vessel preserved this artifact collection for study. Very little is known about the ship. The temporal and geographical location of the sloop to the Hemmings sugar plantation suggest its involvement in the local sugar trade. The vessel is a derelict, abandoned sometime around the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The ship was salvaged, so nothing of value to the last owners was recovered during 1994 season of the Reader's Point Project. The assemblage provided a terminus post quem of 1765, based on the earliest manufacture dates of featheredged creamware found aboard. The rest of the collection yielded dates clustering around 1775. It is believed that the artifacts, on the whole, represent personal or useful objects of the crew as opposed to cargo. All objects appeared to be British in origin.
This thesis explains the approach taken toward retrieval, documentation, and conservation of the artifacts, but primarily attempts to identify each type of object for function and to place it in its historical context. The collection lends insight into where the sloop sailed, when, by whom, and for what purpose. This work should serve as a useful comparative collection for future students of eighteenth-century British material culture.