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Douglas V. Armstrong

Douglas V. Armstrong

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209A Maxwell Hall

Douglas V. Armstrong

Professor Emeritus, Anthropology Department

Maxwell Professor of Teaching Excellence

Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1983


Currently I am engaged in research in the Caribbean and New York State. In Barbados, my current research explores the shift from small-scale farming to large-scale agro-industrial capital based sugar production and plantation slavery. This project is centered at Trents plantation where I have found evidence of the initial small-scale farming settlement at one of Barbados's initial plantations. The site has produced a broad array of data from this early period as well as a rich body of data related to both planter and enslaved laborer contexts. In 2015 we found a cave used by the enslaved Africans.  Initial evidence projects use of this cave as a place of ritual and resistance revolving around iron and the hiding way of iron/steel weapons. Refined analysis of this cave and its outer shelter area will be a focus of research in 2016 and 2017.

In New York my research has focused on archaeological studies that explore social activism associated with social reform movements of the 19th century, including abolition and women's rights. Archaeological studies of the Harriet Tubman Home have involved a series of surveys and excavations aimed at gaining a better understanding of Harriet Tubman and the Home for Aging African Americans that she opened on her properties with the help of the AME Zion Church.

At present I am finishing a book based on historical research and the analysis of excavations in and around her farm house, John Brown Hall (the dormitory of the home for the aged), and several other buildings and features that have been identified on the property. One of these studies involves a detailed examination of social relations to a brick kiln found on her property and the involvement of African Americans in the local brick making craft enterprise. This project was organized in cooperation with the Harriet Tubman Home, Inc. and the AME Zion Church and has involved an array of community, urban high school and Syracuse University digs. In 2014, after years of effort, Congress designated this National Landmark property as a National Historic Park and it will soon be co-managed by the Harriet Tubman Home, Inc. and the National Park Service. In 2015 this project was recognized by the awarding of “First Place” in the Society for Historical Archaeology's Gender and Minority Affairs Field School Competition. 

These current projects build on a broad body of international and North American research. My primary research area has been in the Caribbean where I have directed a variety of projects focusing on cultural transformation, ethnogenesis and the emergence of African Caribbean communities on plantation, in “free village” settings and in urban contexts.  My analysis of the emergence of a free-black community on St. John (formerly Danish West Indies) was published in a book "Creole Transformation from Slavery to Freedom: Historical Archaeology of the East End Community, St. John, Virgin Islands" (University Press of Florida 2003).

Studies include archaeological investigations of Drax Hall (Armstrong 1990) and Seville Plantations (Armstrong 2011, Armstrong and Kelly 2000), the East End Community, and Cinnamon Bay plantation (Armstrong et al. 2005; Hauser and Armstrong 2011). The study explores a small beachhead cotton/provisioning/maritime estate that was settled prior to formal colonization of St. John and burned during the St. John rebellion of 1733. My most recent project on St. John is a whole island historic site GIS survey (Armstrong et al. 2008, 2009).

In addition to my international research, I have carried out a series of local research projects in Central New York. These have included formal excavation related projects like the long-term study at the Harriet Tubman Home (Armstrong 2015, 2014, 2011), the study of Syracuse's Wesleyan Methodist Church (Armstrong 2003, Armstrong and Wurst 2003), as well as an array of community-based projects involving assessment of cultural resource management (Armstrong et al. 2000). 

In addition to these projects I have been engaged with the local community, most recently to gain National Park recognition and funding from the Harriet Tubman Home. To advance preservation efforts I have served in leadership roles as past president of the Preservation Association of Central New York, vice chair of the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board and participated in several other local organizations. Within the profession I support ethics and professionalism as a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists and as a past board member and past president of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Areas of Expertise

Global historical archaeology, archaeology of the African diaspora, the Atlantic world, ethnohistory, colonialism, ethnogenesis, culture contact and culture change, GIS, public policy and world heritage archaeology, collections management (Caribbean, American Northeast, California, Africa)

Selected Publications


Delle, James A, Mark Hauser, and Douglas V. Armstrong, 2011. Out of Many, One People: The Historical Archaeology of Colonial Jamaica.  University of Alabama Press.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2003. Creole Transformation from Slavery to Freedom: Historical Archaeology of the East End Community, St. John, Virgin Islands. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.  

Armstrong, Douglas V., LouAnn Wurst and Elizabeth J. Kellar, 2000. Archaeological Sites and Preservation Planning in Central New York. New York State Historic Preservation Office. Pebbles Island, New York. ISBN 1-929436-06-8.  

Armstrong, Douglas V., 1990. The Old Village and the Great House: An Archaeological and Historical Examination of Drax Hall Plantation, St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica. Champaign: University of Illinois Press. 

Articles, Chapters and Formal Reports

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2015. Harriet Tubman's Farmsteads in Central New York: Archaeological Explorations Relating to an American Icon.  In The Limits of Tyranny: Archaeological Perspectives on the Struggle Against New World Slavery.  James A. Delle, editor.  University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. Pp.  147-174.  

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2015. Cave of Iron and Resistance: A Preliminary Examination.  Journal of the Barbados Historical Society. 61: 178-199.  

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2015. Archaeology of the Enslaved Laborer Settlement at Trents Plantation: 2014-2015.  Journal of the Barbados Historical Society. 61: 146-177.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2015.  Archaeology at Trents Plantation, Barbados. Actas del 25to Congreso International de Arqueología del Caribe. Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueño, el Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe y la Universitad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras. Pp. 1030-1048.  

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2014.  Archéologie de la maison d'Harriet Tubman. Le combat d'une AfroAméricaine en quête de liberté.  In Archéologie de l'esclavage colonial. Edited by André Delpuech and Jean-Paul Jacob. INRAP, Éditions La Découverte, Paris.   Pp. 203-318.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2014.  A Path to Follow: Theresa A. Singleton, J. C. Harrington Medal in Historical Archaeology.  Historical Archaeology 48 (2): 1-8. Basil A. Reid, Corinne L. Hofman, R. Grant Gilmore III, and Douglas V. Armstrong, 2014.  

Introduction: Caribbean Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology.  In Encyclopedia of Caribbean Archaeology.  Edited by Basil A. Reid, R. Grant Gilmore III.  University Press of Florida, Gainesville.  Pp. 1-30.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., Christian Williamson, Alan D. Armstrong, and Stephan Lenik, 2014.  Gates to Include and Divide: Social Interaction Within and Between Walled and Terraced House Compounds in the Danish West Indies. Archéologie Caraïbe, edited by Benoit Berard and Catherine Losier, Taboui n°2, AIHP/GEODE, Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, Sidestone Press Academic, Leiden. Pp. 153 -169.      

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Matthew C. Reilly, 2014.  The Archaeology of Settler Farms and Early Plantation Life in Seventeenth-Century Barbados. Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post Slave Studies. 35(3): 399-417.     

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2013. New Directions in Caribbean Historical Archaeology.  In Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology.  William Keegan, Corinne Hofman and Reniel Rodriquez Ramos Editors.  Oxford University Press, Oxford. Pp. 525-541.

Armstrong, Douglas V., Christian Williamson and Alan D. Armstrong, 2013.  Networked Interaction: Archaeological Exploration of Walled and Terraces House Compounds in the Danish Colonial Port Town of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.  In Scandinavian Colonialism and the Rise of Modernity: Small Time Agents in a Global Arena. Magdalena Naum and Jonas M. Nordin Editors. Springer.  Pp. 275-293.   

Finch, Jonathan, Douglas V. Armstrong, Edward Blinkhorn and David Barker, 2013. Surveying Caribbean Cultural Landscapes: Mount Plantation, Barbados, and its global connections. Internet Archaeology, (35). Council for British Archaeology. doi:10.11141/ia.35.5.  Open Access at:

Armstrong, Alan D. and Douglas V. Armstrong, 2012. Craft Enterprise and the Harriet Tubman Home. Journal of African Diaspora Heritage and Archaeology. 1(1): 32-65.    

Hauser, Mark and Douglas V. Armstrong, 2012.  The archaeology of not being governed: A counterpoint to a history of settlement of two colonies in the eastern Caribbean. Journal of Social Archaeology. 12(3): 310-333.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2011. Excavating Inspiration:  Archaeology of the Harriet Tubman Home.  In The Materiality of Freedom: Archaeologies of Post-Emancipation Life, edited by Jodi Barnes.  University of South Carolina Press, Columbia. Pp.263-276.   

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Christian Williamson, 2011. The Magens House, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies: Archaeology of an Urban House Compound and its Relationship to Local Interactions and Global Trade.  In Islands at the Crossroads: Migration, Seafaring, and Interaction in the Caribbean, L. A. Curet and M. W. Hauser, Editors. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. Pp. 137-163.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2011. Reflections on Seville: Rediscovering the African Jamaican Settlements at Seville Plantation, St. Ann's Bay.  In Out of Many One People: Historical Archaeology in Jamaica, James Delle, Mark Hauser and Douglas V. Armstrong, editors. University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa.  Pp. 77-101.   

Kelly, Kenneth, Mark Hauser and Douglas V. Armstrong, 2011. Identity and Opportunity in Post Slavery Jamaica.  In Out of Many One People:  Historical Archaeology in Jamaica, James Delle, Mark Hauser and Douglas V. Armstrong, editors. University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa. Pp. 243-257.     

Hauser, Mark, James Delle, and Douglas V. Armstrong, 2011. Historical Archaeology in Jamaica: An Introduction.  In Out of Many One People: Historical Archaeology in Jamaica, James Delle, Mark Hauser and Douglas V. Armstrong, editors. University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa. Pp. 1-20.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2011. The Epilogue: Explorations in Jamaican Historical Archaeology.  In Out of Many One People: Historical Archaeology in Jamaica, James Delle, Mark Hauser and Douglas V. Armstrong, editors.  University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa. Pp. 258-271.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2010. Degrees of Freedom in the Caribbean: Archaeological Explorations of Transitions from Slavery to Freedom.  Antiquity 83(322): 1-15.    

Armstrong, Douglas V., Christian Williamson and David Knight, 2010.    The Magen's-Pedersen House, Charlotte Amalie:  Archaeology an Urban House Compound in the former Danish West Indies.  In Proceedings of the XXII Congress of the International Association of Caribbean Archaeology, Kingston.  Jamaica National Heritage Trust.  Pp. 411-425.   

Lenik, Stephan and Douglas V. Armstrong, 2010.  Interpreting the Presence of Moravian Produced Slipware Pottery at Cinnamon Bay, St. John, U. S. Virgin Islands.  In Proceedings of the XXII Congress of the International Association of Caribbean Archaeology, Kingston.  Jamaica National Heritage Trust.  Pp. 508-523.   

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Mark Hauser, 2009.  A Sea of Diversity:  Historical Archaeology in the Caribbean Region.  International Handbook of Historical Archaeology Chapter 32. T. Majewsky and D. Gaimster (editors).  Springer Science. Pp. 583-612.     

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Mark Hauser and David Knight, 2009. Variation in Venues of Slavery and Freedom:  Interpreting the late 18th Century Cultural Landscape of St. John, Danish West Indies Using an Archaeological GIS.  International Journal of Historical Archaeology. 13(1):94-111.  

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2008. Excavating African American Heritage: Towards a More Nuanced Understanding of the African Diaspora.  Historical Archaeology 42 (2): 123-137.  

Armstrong, Douglas V., Mark Hauser, David Knight, and Stephan Lenik. 2008. Maps, Matricals, and Material Remains:  Archaeology of Late Eighteenth Century Historic Sites on St. John, Danish West Indies.  In Archaeology and Geoinformatics: Case Studies from the Caribbean. Basil A Reid, Editor.  University of Alabama Press: Birmingham.  Pp. 99-126.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2008. Addressing American Capital in an American Capitol: Political, Economic and Cultural Identity. Cambridge Journal of Archaeology. 18(1): 101-115.   

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Gillian Galle, 2008. House Area 15, Seville Plantation, St. Ann, Jamaica.  Syracuse University and the Digital Archive of Comparative Slavery. On line publication: Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Gillian Galle, 2008. House Area 16, Seville Plantation, St. Ann, Jamaica.  Syracuse University and the Digital Archive of Comparative Slavery. On line publication: Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.

Armstrong, Douglas V., Mark M. Hauser, Stephan Lenik and Kenneth Wild, 2007. Estate Consolidation, Land Use, and Ownership: A GIS Archaeological Landscape Survey of St. John, Danish West Indies (1780-1800), with a Particular Focus on Annaberg Plantation. In Proceedings of the XXI Congress of the International Association of Caribbean Archaeology.  University of the West Indies, Trinidad.  Pp.69-80.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2006. East End Maritime Traders:  The emergence of a Creole Community on St. John, Danish West Indies.  African Re-Genesis: Confronting Social Issues in the Diaspora. Jay Haviser and Kevin MacDonald, Editors.  One World Archaeology. University College London, London. Pp. 146-159.     

Armstrong, Douglas V., Mark Hauser, David Knight, 2005. The Early Shoreline Settlement at Cinnamon Bay, St. John, and USVI:  Before Formal Colonization to the Slave Rebellion of 1733.  In Proceedings of the XX Congreso International de Arqueologia del Caribe. Museo del Hombre, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 38(2): 743-750   

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Mark Hauser, 2004.  An East Indian Laborers' Household in 19th Century Jamaica: A case for understanding cultural diversity through space, chronology, and material analysis.  Historical Archaeology 38(2) 9-21.     

Armstrong, Douglas V. and LouAnn Wurst, 2003. Clay Faces in an Abolitionist Church: The Wesleyan Methodist Church in Syracuse, New York.  Historical Archaeology 37(20): 19-37.    

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Mark Fleischman, 2003. House-Yard Burials of Enslaved Laborers in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 7(1):33-65.    

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2003. Social Relations in a Maritime Creole Community: Networked Multifocality in the East End Community of St. John, Danish West Indies. Proceedings of the XIX International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology. Luc Alofs and Raymundo A.C.F. Dijkhoff editors. Museo Arqueologico Aruba Volume 9(2): 195-210.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2003. Faces in the Basement.  Dig 5(1): cover, 16-19.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2003. Patterns in the Snow. Dig 5(1): 28-30.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2001. Attaining the Full Potential of Historical Archaeology.  Historical Archaeology 35(2):9-13.  

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2001. A Venue for Autonomy: Archaeology of a Changing Cultural Landscape, the East End Community, St. John, Virgin Islands, Island Lives: Plantation Archaeology in the Caribbean.  Paul Farnsworth, editor. University of Alabama Press.  Pp. 142-164.   

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Kenneth Kelly, 2000. Settlement Patterns and the Origin of African Jamaican Society. Ethnohistory 47(2):368-397.    

Wurst, LouAnn, Elizabeth Kellar and Douglas V. Armstrong, 2000. Between Fact and Fantasy: Assessing Our Knowledge of Domestic Sites Archaeology. In Nineteenth-Century Domestic Archaeology in New York State. Edited by John P. Hart. New York State Museum Bulletin. Pp. 17-27. 

Armstrong, Douglas V 2000. Archaeology, Local History, and the Community.  In The Encyclopedia of Local History. Carol Kammen and Norma Prendergast editors, Pp. 24-29. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Alta Mira Press.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 2000. Ancestral Reburial at Seville. Archaeology Jamaica 12: 12-13.   

Armstrong, Douglas V., 1999 Archaeology and Ethnohistory of the Caribbean Plantation. In I, Too, Am America: Archaeological Studies of African American Life. Theresa Singleton Ed. University of Virginia Press. Pp. 173-192.    

Hauser, Mark and Douglas V. Armstrong, 1999. Embedded Identities: Piecing Together Relationships Through Compositional Analysis of Low Fired Earthenware.  In African Sites Archaeology in the Caribbean. Jay B Haviser ed..  Princeton: Markus Weiner. Pp. 65-93.    

Armstrong, Douglas V., 1998. Cultural Transformation among Caribbean Slave Communities. Studies in Culture Contact: Interaction, Culture Change, and Archaeology.  James Cusick editor. Southern Illinois University, Center for Archaeological Investigations, Carbondale.  Pp.  378-401.   

Armstrong, Douglas V. and Mark Fleischman, 1993. Analysis of Four Burials from African Jamaican House-Yard Contexts at Seville.  Report to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. Syracuse University Archaeological Report 6(5). Syracuse University                  

Armstrong, Douglas V., 1992. Spatial transformations in African Jamaican Housing at Seville Plantation. Archaeology Jamaica, 6:51-63.      

Armstrong, Douglas V., 1991. The Afro-Jamaican House-Yard: An Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Perspective.  The Florida Journal of Anthropology.    

Armstrong, Douglas V., 1991. A First Hand Look at Afro-Americans on a Jamaican Plantation: An Archaeological Study of Drax Hall. Jamaica Journal.

Armstrong, Douglas V., 1985. An Afro-Jamaican slave settlement:  Archaeological Investigations at Drax Hall.  In The Archaeology of Slavery and Plantation Life. Theresa Singleton ed., New York: Academic Press.