Kingsley Plantation is located on Fort George Island north of Jacksonville, Florida. Excavations at the site, which began in 1968, represents the first archaeological investigation of enslaved African life in the US. The plantation was owned by Zephaniah Kingsley, well-known for his marriage to Anna Madgigaine Jai, a slave from Senegal whom he married shortly after purchasing her in 1806, when she was 13 years old. They moved to the area now known as Kingsley Plantation in 1814 and remained there until 1839. Kingsley manumitted Anna on her 18th birthday in 1811, and she played an active role in the management of Kingsley Plantation. The landscape of Kingsley Plantation consists of a main house, a kitchen (which also served as Anna’s domicile), a barn, and an arc of 36 cabins which housed enslaved Africans. The original plantation included nearly 1,000 acres that was used to grow cotton, citrus, sugarcane, and other crops. Archaeological investigations of the site were renewed by James Davidson (University of Florida) in 2006.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at Kingsley Plantation
Our work at Kingsley Plantation combines archaeology GIS and digital heritage to document and interpret one of the nation’s unique plantation landscapes. The process of modeling this particular archaeological context initially involved the collection and organization of supporting evidence. This included measured drawings completed by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in 2006 as well as archaeological investigations that began the same year by the University of Florida. GIS was also instrumental in pinpointing the location of several destroyed cabins and mill destroyed in the early 20th century.
Virtually Reconstructing Kingsley Plantation
The initial virtual model of Kingsley Plantation was constructed as part of Diana González-Tennant’s 2008 undergraduate thesis at the University of Florida. The original model used SketchUp software, but our recent work takes advantage of the free and open source software (FOSS) 3D modeling program Blender. The SketchUp model is still available via the 3D Warehouse (here). The model is also installed in the 3D Buildings Layer of Google Earth.