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Jamaican Red Clay Tobacco Pipes

Kenan Heidtke
Thesis: December 1992
Chair: Hamilton
Nautical Archaeology Program


This thesis is a study of the red clay tobacco pipes which are found in significant numbers on Jamaican archaeological sites dating to the latter half of the 17th century and the early part of the 18th century. Clay tobacco pipes have proved to be an important class of artifacts because of their widespread distribution throughout colonial sites in the New World and the information they can provide concerning the dates of occupation, trade patterns, and the national origin of the people who occupied a particular site.

Pipes of European manufacture have been studied extensively in the last few decades, and this research has helped to increase their value as a tool for gaining information from archaeological sites. While our knowledge of the white European tobacco pipes has grown considerably, research into locally-made earthenware tobacco pipes has only been undertaken in the last few years. These red clay pipes occur at several colonial sites in North America, the Caribbean, and South America.

This thesis will be a detailed study of the red clay pipes found in Jamaica with a special emphasis on pipes recovered from the important English colonial city of Port Royal. Until it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1692, Port Royal was the most important English city in the Caribbean.

The goals of this thesis are: to determine as closely as possible the dates in which these pipes were in use, to identify the place of origin of the pipes, to explain the processes used to produce the pipes, to compile a catalog of the different types of decoration used on the pipes, and to offer possible explanations for the markings and stylistic attributes of the pipes. Locally made earthenware pipes from other colonial sites in the New World will also be examined to identify possible parallels to the Jamaican tobacco pipes.


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