When a group of Jamaican students and their lecturers begin an archaeological dig on the old estate of Plantation Plains, each has different expectations.
Jean Goulbourne
ISBN number
Fiction, Novel
Country setting
Publication date
01 Jul 1997

For Professor Milton, recently returned home after years abroad, the dig is to be the crowning achievement of a distinguished career. For Kwame, a lecturer from Ghana, it is the opportunity to use his knowledge to help identify African survivals in the New World. For rastafarian Akete, the dig is going to be part of his mission to bring a sense of their African heritage to his fellow sufferers in the ghetto, and for Carla the excavations on the site of the Big House and the slave quarters are potent reminders that her own ancestry is both black and white. For the two young Americans who join them, the dig is the first chance to put their archaeological skills into practice in an exotic new environment.

Each of the diverse group of people brought together by the dig is changed by the experience, the result both of their encounters with the relics of history, and the personal encounters within the group. This is a dramatic and poetically written exploration of the interaction of past and present, and of the issues of age, race and gender which the excavation provokes. For all of the group there is the stark contrast between the beauty of the poetically evoked Jamaican landscape and the dark secrets lying underneath it.

'Jean Goulbourne’s Excavation gives a refreshing perspective on a subject that has long troubled the West Indies - the nature of identity in a multiracial society haunted by a history of colonialism...Goulbourne’s writing style is stimulating - especially in the portrayal of the island’s landscape - and as she draws the reader into the lives of her characters, we gain a fresh perspective on West Indian culture, history, and politics.' - Geoffrey Philp, The Caribbean Writer.

Jean Goulbourne grew up in rural Jamaica. She has worked as a teacher and a publications officer. She was the recipient of a James Michener Fellowship and an honorary fellowship at the Iowa Institute of Writing Programme.


Jean Goulbourne

Jean Goulbourne was born in rural Jamaica in St Elizabeth, and grew up in Cross Keys, Manchester. She went to school at Manchester High and Excelsior in Kingston. She read History at the University of the West Indies, Mona, and then took a Diploma in Education.
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