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Over the past forty years an enormous collection of pewter artifacts has been recovered from the various archaeological excavations at Port Royal, Jamaica, both on land and underwater (Link 1960; Marx 1971; Priddy 1975; Hamilton 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988). Since pewter is rarely found in most archaeological excavations the recovery of, what has come to represent, the largest single collection of 17th century pewter from a single site is of special significance. These pewter artifacts, most of them recovered in their primary archaeological context, preserved countless aspects of daily life in 17th century Port Royal. Pewter, like ceramics, possesses distinctive diagnostic characteristics which provide information concerning the maker and/or owner of the pewter, the use of the pewter, and the date and place of manufacture.
The focus of this study is the pewter hollowware recovered from the excavations conducted by Robert Marx (1967, 1968,1971,1973) and the INA/TAMU excavations directed by Donny Hamilton (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988). Approximately 269 pewter artifacts were recovered from these excavations which included spoons, flatware, hollowware, and miscellaneous pewter. The inclusion of the Marx artifacts allows for a consistency in the analysis of the pewter and of the historical records.
The main objective of this study is to compile a catalog of the hollowware which records the form and style of each piece, as well as any diagnostic characteristics. A secondary objective is to analyze 17th century probate inventories from Port Royal for information concerning pewter ownership and usage. The third objective is to relate patterns of pewter usage to primary motivation for settlement at Port Royal. This is accomplished by comparing and contrasting the Port Royal probate data with data provided by 17th century probate inventories from Boston, Massachusetts, and Mainland, Jamaica.
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