Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Brent Weisman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin Yelvington, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Philip Levy, Ph.D.


slavery, Judah P. Benjamin, Robert Gamble, applied anthropology, historic preservation, anthropology of museums, Manatee River settlement


This thesis is a research design that will serve as a baseline for further research and as a more inclusive interpretation at the Judah P. Benjamin Memorial at the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park in Ellenton, Florida. It reviews the history and archaeology of Robert Gamble's nineteenth-century enslaved labor-worked sugar plantation, focusing on how the demands of this capitalistic enterprise were expressed in the plantation's culture and on the landscape. This thesis reviews the literature on the archaeology of slavery in the United States and the Caribbean to provide a critical lens through which new directions in research might be seen and conceived. At the same time, it reviews the archaeological and historical resources associated with the plantation.

The thesis is motivated by the following main research question: What was the nature of slavery on the Gamble Plantation? Subsidiary questions include the following: How was slavery evident in the plantation landscape? What were the day-to-day lifeways and activities of the enslaved labor force on the Gamble Plantation? While direct evidence of slave life at the Gamble Plantation might be scant, through a consideration of the literature we can infer how slave activity might be reflected in the archaeological record. It offers research methods to assist in obtaining answers to how is this plantation's landscape built which might illustrate slavery activity.

The thesis also proceeds from the assumption that Gamble Plantation's history can be made more complete and relevant to park visitors. Public presentation is critically examined and stakeholders are identified. It concludes with suggestions on how can a more comprehensive and inclusive history can be told.