Annaberg Sugar Plantation, USA

Colonialism and slavery on a Danish sugar plantation



Equipment scanning the remains of the Annaberg Sugar PlanationCyArk

Expedition Overview

In 2015, CyArk partnered with Trimble Navigation, Virgin Islands National Park, and Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park to digitally preserve the Annaberg Sugar Plantation. The documentation team, consisting of both CyArk and Trimble personnel, digitally documented the site and remaining plantation structures, such as the windmill and sugar factory. The data captured was used to monitor erosion of existing structures, identify structures hidden beneath the dense tropical vegetation, and create future plans for conservation.

View of Annaberg Sugar Plantation from aboveCyArk

Introducing the Annaberg Sugar Plantation

The Annaberg Sugar Plantation in the Virgin Islands is part of one of the largest historic migrations of people and resources throughout the world. For centuries, the Virgin Islands was a crossroads for indigenous peoples, colonial powers, and the transatlantic slave trade. The plantation structures that the National Park Service preserves on the site today demonstrate the agricultural success of the Danish Colonial era, but also its human cost. A 40-foot high windmill constructed with sails to direct the wind was state of the art at the time of its completion in 1805. Not far from the windmill, built into the foundation of the sick house, the Annaberg “Dungeon” served as a means of punishment for enslaved laborers. Etched into the walls are images of merchant ships, transportation instrumental to the plantation’s success but also the majority of the population’s enslavement. Boats would also become crucial to enslaved people’s resistance, with at least 12 people escaping to the nearby British island of Tortola. The Annaberg Sugar Plantation’s landscape reveals complex histories of ingenuity, colonial violence, and resistance, remaining a powerful site for understanding the impact of colonialism on the global economy and on the daily lives of people.

View from the historic Annaberg Plantation's windmill

View of the remains of the Annaberg millCyArk

The Winds of Colonial Industry

After James Murphy purchased the land in 1796, he replaced the outdated sugar works with a state-of-the-art factory complex. This included a 40-foot-high windmill, one of the tallest on the Island. The sails could be manually directed into the prevailing wind to maximize efficiency, and on windy days, the windmill doubled the amount of crushed cane.

Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk

Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.

Download the data from this project.

About Open Heritage 3D

The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:

● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
non-commercial uses.

● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.

● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.

● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.

● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of Trimble and the following partners:

U.S. National Park Service

Friends of Virgin Islands National Park

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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