Benjamin David Siegel

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Berkeley, U of California

Grant number

Gr. 10348

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Siegel, Benjamin (Berkeley, U of California) "The Hydrological Legacy of Sugar Planting in St. Croix (USVI)"

Over the last 40 years archaeologists have collaborated with natural scientists in their quest for information on the extent to which past human societies possessed and wielded the power to manipulate and alter their environments. As we push further into the 21st century however, and bear witness to globally experienced and locally felt anthropogenically induced changes to earth systems, there is now pressing need to archaeologically examine not just sites where we can identify human impacts to the environment, but sites where the occupying society had the capacity to contribute to the environmental conditions of today. Working in collaboration with the Society of Black Archaeologists I am pursuing a geoarchaeological, historical, and paleoenvironmental investigation on the Estate Little Princes sugar plantation in St. Croix (US Virgin Islands) which operated from 1749 through the 1950s to determine the extent to which the island’s present-day soil and hydrological concerns can be attributed to centuries of intensified sugar monoculture. Testing the long-established hypothesis that European sugar planting caused a reduction in the stability of Caribbean soils, this project offers a diachronic look at the environmental impact sugar planting has had on the larger Atlantic World.