In this video, Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, discusses her community archaeology project in the “Beman Triangle” in Middletown, Conn. The houses built on this land from the 1840s were home to a community of African Americans living in Middletown, tied to the nearby A.M.E. Zion Church. Artifacts discovered in the area from 19th century trash pits shed new light on the lives of the community members, and the longstanding relationship between the church, Middletown and Wesleyan. Read more about Croucher’s project in this past Wesleyan Connection article.
Tag Archive for archaeology
by Lauren Rubenstein •
In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we ask 5 Questions of Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. Croucher will lead an archaeological dig on the site of the Beman Triangle in Middletown on April 28-29. The public is welcome to attend. To view photos of the dig on April 14-15 click here.
Q: Professor Croucher, what exactly is the Beman Triangle and what is its significance to the history of Middletown?
A: The Beman Triangle is the land between Vine Street, Cross Street, and Knowles Ave., where homes have existed since the early 19th century. Local historian Liz Warner has shown that something very important happened here in the mid- to late-19th century. Leverett Beman, son of the first Pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church in Middletown, had the land divided into plots by a surveyor in 1847, and sold these plots off to other African-American families. This seems to be a deliberately planned community; a way that members of the AME Zion Church could become property owners (something that remains hard for many people today), and live as neighbors in a relatively prosperous community. The Beman Triangle is of national importance as very few African-Americans were able to go through a similar community-building process in the mid-nineteenth century, when they still lacked U.S. citizenship and slavery was still legal in many states. Although the houses might not look like much today, the site is an important testament to the lives of the nineteenth century Beman Triangle community.
Q: What do we know already about the AME Zion Church community?
A: There has been some wonderful historical research done on the Beman Triangle community by local historians Liz Warner and Janice Cunningham, as well as Wesleyan alumnus Jesse Nasta as part of his thesis. This work has shown us how active the residents were politically, in ways that are traceable through historical documents.
by Olivia Drake •
Phillip Wagoner, professor of art history and chair of the archaeology program, spoke on “Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600,” at Penn State University Park campus April 5.
Wagoner discussed his upcoming book of the same title, which focuses on the cultural history of the Deccan region of South India (1200-1600), primarily in the historical interactions between the region’s established Indic culture and the Persianate culture that arrived in the early 14th century.
Since 1987, Wagoner has been associated with the Vijayanagara Research Project, an international team of scholars in different disciplines dedicated to documentation and interpretation of the site of Vijayanagara, capital of the state that dominated the southern part of the Indian peninsula between the 1340s and 1565. This work has led to the publication of two books: Tidings of the King: A Translation and Ethnohistorical Analysis of the Rayavacakamu (University of Hawai’i Press,1993); and Vijayanagara: Architectural Inventory of the Sacred Centre, New Delhi (American Institute of Indian Studies and Manohar, 2001). Since 2000, his work has increasingly focused on Persianate Islamic architecture in the Deccan, ranging from the first appearance of Sultanate-style architecture in the region in the early 14th century, to the founding and design of Hyderabad, laid out as a new capital by the Qutb Shahi sultans in the late 16th century.
by Olivia Drake •
by Olivia Drake •
The Middletown Materials: Archaeological Analysis class (ANTH 227) presented their final projects May 5-7 in the new Cross Street Archaeology Lab. The class was taught by Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.
“The class has been doing fantastic work on beginning to reexamine archaeological contexts explored in the late 1970s by Professor Stephen Dyson and students,” she says. “They’ve had a tough job as the first class to begin working with this material, but have been making great progress with the artifacts and with working on associated archival information.”
Presentations were held across two class sessions, and included work on advertising in late 18th and early 19th century Middletown, the relationship of Middletown newspapers to the Magill site inhabitants, queer Marxist investigations of historical archaeology in Middletown, interpretations of bottles found in the rebuilding of the Wesleyan boathouse, and a tour of the remaining historical buildings on Wesleyan’s campus and their relationship to the changing history of Middletown.
Their work is published online at http://middletownmaterials.research.wesleyan.edu/student-posts/.
by Olivia Drake •
As an archaeologist investigating 19th century sites in Zanzibar and Tanzania, it was impossible for Sarah Croucher to ignore the thousands of shreds of locally-produced and imported ceramics unearthed every day of excavations.
For archaeologists, these materials are vital to interpreting the social history of 19th century Islamic colonialism in East Africa.
“Many key questions remain uninvestigated, particularly in regard to how newly shared Zanzibar identities emerged during the 19th Century, which intersected with gender, religion, class and sexuality,” Croucher explains.
Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, has been awarded a nine-month Weatherhead Fellowship by the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, N.M. Resident scholars approach their research from anthropology or from related fields such as history, sociology, art and philosophy, with fellowships providing scholars with “time to think and write about topics important to the understanding of humankind.” Scholars are provided with housing and office space on the SAR campus in Santa Fe.
Croucher was awarded the fellowship to complete writing up the findings of her research, tied together into a project titled “Consuming Colonialism: Archaeological Investigations of Ceramics and Identities in 19th Century East Africa.”
The core of this study results from survey and excavation work Croucher directed in 2003 and 2005 to investigate clove plantation sites on Zanzibar. Further material is drawn from a 2006 survey project along the central caravan route taken by traders during the 19th Century and excavations in 2008 at the site of Ujiji in Western Tanzania, made famous by the expeditions of Stanley and