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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 45–58 | Cite as

Socio-economics and trade in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico: Observations from the Ballaja Archaeological Project

  • J. W. Joseph
  • Stephen C. Bryne
Article

Abstract

The testing-phase investigation of the Ballajá Archaeological Project involved the archaeological study of two blocks in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico. These field studies revealed portions of two of the city’s late 18th- and 19th-century barrios: Santo Domingo, one of the wealthier barrios in the old city, and Ballajá, the city’s 19th-century slum. The late 18th century witnessed Puerto Rico’s entry into a world economy, as trade restrictions were relaxed and goods from beyond the Spanish empire first legally reached the island. The analysis of materials from the Ballajá project indicates that three trading spheres existed during this period: (1) materials produced from outside the Spanish realm, (2) items produced by Spain and her colonies, and (3) items produced locally in Puerto Rico. Participation in each of these trade networks appears to have been linked to social and economic status, with the upper-status occupants of the project area focused on non-Hispanic materials, the middle-status inhabitants relying upon non-local Hispanic goods, and the lower-status residents dependent on locally-produced items. This article examines the relations between socio-economics and trade in 18th- and 19th-century Old San Juan, and discusses the implications of the observed patterns for understanding the colonial Hispanic economy.

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. W. Joseph
    • 1
  • Stephen C. Bryne
    • 2
  1. 1.New South AssociatesStone MountainUSA
  2. 2.National Park ServiceSoutheastern Archeological CenterTallahasseeUSA

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