HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGY AT MONA

The Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) draws its name from the old Mona sugar estate on which it is set. Mona was the last sugar estate in the parish of St Andrew to go out of production, taking off its last crop in 1908. It is a history that has left many trails, only some of which we have fully explored.

Some of that history is told in the book Mona Past and Present, and markers across the campus site help to recall populations that lived there during different periods as well as identify aged ruins that pop-up in the landscape. And recently, the UWI Department of History & Archaeology began some archaeological exploration of the Mona Works Yard, which the university’s early administrators partly saved from the bulldozers of the 1950s by dubbing it the Oriental Garden.

UWI Mona Archaeologist Dr Zachary Beier talked about artifacts of the campus site during the Archaeological Society of Jamaica (ASJ)s annual symposium 2017. The artifacts, from the Mona and adjoining Papine Estate works, also on the UWI Mona Campus, were developed as a presentation for the UWI Mona’s annual Research Days, by graduate students and staff in the Department, with some reference to the UWI Museum Curator. Some of these artifacts would have been recovered during three field seasons starting 2008, when the Department partnered with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s  Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS).

Mona Past and Present. The History and Heritage of the Mona Campus, University of the West Indies was written by Suzanne Francis-Brown, now Museum Curator, out of research for a UWI Mona MA Heritage Studies, and published by the UWI Press. The research continues, so persons who may still have recall of the estate site or may know of relevant estate sources are encouraged to get in touch.

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