From Publishers Weekly
The uncommon ground in the title of Ferguson's highly provocative book is that which yields up evidence of African Americans during the pre-Revolutionary period. The discussion of archeological findings that elucidate how these enslaved people actually lived is so surprisingly engaging and accessible that at times this reads like a detective story, with one tantalizing clue leading the author to yet another. Recovered potsherds tell of economic interrelations between plantation slaves and Native Americans and of the too-little-recognized common thread between the extermination of Native Americans and racism against blacks. Toys and house sites allow examination of daily life. Utensils dug from the ground illuminate the slaves' diet and foodways. Ritual objects open up a discussion of African slave religion. Ferguson also tracks the differences in slave lifestyles between coastal South Carolina and tidewater Virginia. In the end, he concludes that, although the slave-owning whites may have held political and coercive power, they depended for survival on the practical knowledge and skills of their African American slaves. Ferguson proves his case that archeological research helps us envision the contrast between the world the slaves built and the European/American culture that they rejected. Ferguson is a professor of anthropology at the University of South Carolina. Illustrated.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-- An examination of the American archaeological past and the emergence of the African-American field of study. Ferguson provides an account of a fictional slave's typical day, and the rest of the book reveals how this information has been pieced together over the past quarter of a century. Written in layman's terms, the book not only relates information about this field, but illustrates how it is done in reality as well as in theory. History students will enjoy this book for its informational content and for its revelation of how history is not set in stone, but changes and grows as we discover more about our past.-Hugh McAloon, Frederick, MD
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.