Historic Archaeology

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					Historic Archaeology

      What is it?
     Historic Sites
     Case Studies
    What is Historical Archaeology?
 Historical archaeology is the study of the
  material remains of past societies that also
  left behind some other form of historical
 This field of research embraces the
  interests of a diverse group of scholars
  representing the disciplines of
  anthropology, history, geography, and
 In the New World, historical archaeologists
  work on a broad range of sites preserved
  on land and underwater.
                    Historic Sites
   These sites document early European settlement and its
    effects on Native American peoples, as well the
    subsequent spread of the frontier and later urbanization
    and industrialization.
   By examining the physical and documentary record of
    these sites, historical archaeologists attempt to discover
    the fabric of common everyday life in the past and seek
    to understand the broader historical development of
    their own and other societies.
   In the old world (Europe, Africa and Asia) written
    records go back much farther and this type of
    archaeology is referred to as “classical archaeology”.
Development of Historic Archaeology
        In North America
   Historical archaeology in the United States began
    developing in the 1930s in response to the need for both
    material remains and documentary evidence to restore
    and interpret sites important in early American history,
    including Jamestown, St. Augustine, and Plymouth.
   Colonial Williamsburg had one of the first departments of
    historical archaeology in the mid-1950s, and by the
    1960s a few North American universities were offering
    courses in the subject.
   Today many colleges and universities have graduate
    programs in historical archaeology, and field has
    emerged as a discipline in its own right.
     What do Historic Archaeologists Study?
   African American and Native American studies
    explore the impact of European expansion upon
    these groups and issues related to inequality and the
    maintenance of traditional culture.
   Gender studies are concerned with the way the
    division of labor between men and women within
    New World households changed as a result of
   Farmstead studies focus upon the changes that
    occurred within rural households as they became
    increasingly involved in commercial agriculture.
   Urban studies examine the development of cities,
    industries, technology, and their influences upon
    urban groups.
   Maritime or underwater studies explore the history of
    ships and ocean transportation.
        African American Studies
 Since the early 1970s historical archaeologists in
  the South have excavated sites inhabited by
  enslaved African Americans.
 African American studies have been guided by t0
  main questions: How did African American
  culture develop from West African origins and
  what was everyday life like for enslaved blacks?
 The persistence of West African traditions in
  material culture have been identified by
  archaeologists in the areas of architecture and
               Slave Cabins
 Slave cabins were usually 16 or 18 feet by 16
  feet with a chimney at one end.
 Sometimes a loft was reached by ladder and
  used for storage or as a sleeping room for
 Slave cabins generally were grouped together on
  a "street" with several cabins facing each other
  across a lane.
 Cabins for slaves who worked in the plantation
  house would have been fairly close to the house.
  Cabins for slaves who were field hands were
  located near the fields.
Slave cabin from Sotterly Plantation,
           MD (ca. 1840).
Layout of Mansfield Plantation
                   Colono Ware
   In South Carolina during the early 18th century slaves
    constructed West African-style, wattle and daub,
    thatched houses.
   They also made pottery, called Colono Ware, derived
    from West African traditions.
   During the late 18th and 19th centuries elements of
    European material culture, such as European-style
    houses and imported household goods, were
    increasingly imposed upon African Americans.
   However, West African derived cultural elements,
    particularly along coastal South Carolina and Georgia,
    persist to the present in areas such as language,
    foodways, music, funeral customs, and decorative crafts.
Colono Ware
         Native American Studies
 The impact of European colonization upon native groups
  and the way the sexual division of labor changed in the
  historic past are central topics in historical archaeology.
 These issues are illustrated by historical archaeology
  conducted in Labrador, Canada.
 During the late 18th century Moravian missionaries from
  Germany established mission towns along the Labrador
 This region was inhabited by the Inuit (Eskimo). The
  Moravians sought to convert the Inuit to Christianity and
  persuade them to live in mission towns.
 The Inuit were nomadic hunter-gatherers and depended
  upon arctic animals such as seals, whales, and caribous.
Archaeological excavation of an Inuit house midden in
                Nain, a mission town
 Illustrates the impact of European culture
  upon the Inuit and the way it restructured
  traditional divisions of labor between men
  and women.
 European style houses and household
  items largely replaced Inuit material
 However, artifacts from excavation
  illustrate European goods were used in
  distinctively Inuit ways.
     Native use of European goods
   For example, numerous European ceramics such as
    tablewares possessed oil discoloration from being used as
       Previously, the Inuit had made lamps from soapstone. Also, bowls
        made in Europe comprised the bulk of the imported tablewares,
        indicating that stews, previously consumed from soapstone bowls,
        continued to be the main fare of the Inuit.
       The Inuit also mended European ceramic vessels by drilling and
        tying the pieces together with sinew, a practice previously conducted
        with soapstone vessels.
 Concerning changes in the division of household labor,
  European goods such as metal and firearms increased the
  efficiency of hunting and reinforced male activities.
 Conversely, the incorporation of European household goods
  by Inuit women increased the time and labor needed to
  maintain the household and in turn encouraged sedentism.
Exchange items
          The Five Points Site
 Archaeologists and historians rediscover a
  famous nineteenth-century New York
 Named for the points created by the
  intersection of Park, Worth, and Baxter
  streets, the neighborhood was known as a
  center of vice and debauchery throughout
  the nineteenth century.
       Descriptions of Five Points
   Outsiders found Five Points threatening and fodder for
    lurid prose.
   Describing a visit in 1842, Charles Dickens wrote:
   "This is the place: these narrow ways diverging to the right
    and left, and reeking every where with dirt and filth…The
    coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at
    home and all the wide world over. Debauchery has made
    the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten
    beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and
    broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have
    been hurt in drunken frays. Many of these pigs live here.
    Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright in lieu
    of going on all-fours? and why they talk instead of
         Five Points Excavation
   The archaeological excavation of the Foley
    Square courthouse block provided the
    opportunity to examine the physical
    remains of life in this infamous place.
Five Points Excavation
Five Points in 1827 as depicted in
    Valentine's Manual, 1855
    The Pearl Street Tanneries
 A 1785 map shows the courthouse block
  divided into eight lots that belonged to
  George and Jacob Shaw, tanners.
 Taking advantage of the moving water of
  the eastern outlet of the Collect Pond and
  standing water in the surrounding
  swamps, the tanners sited their operations
  along the sill of land that eventually
  became Pearl Street.
               Tannery Artifacts

Iron hook for moving hides around   Cattle bones
          The Hoffman House
 While the Hoffmans ate on fancy Chinese porcelain
  dishes, other citizens complained loudly about the
  industries that were polluting the nearby Collect
 In addition to the tanneries, slaughterhouses,
  breweries, ropewalks, and potteries contributed to
  making the neighborhood less than desirable.
 Despite these conditions, artisans continued to live
  here in order to be near their businesses.
 The Hoffman bakery (managed by a sequence of
  tenants) remained in business on Pearl Street well
  into the 1850s; the widow Hoffman lived on the
  property until circa 1830 when the Five Points had
  already achieved its notorious reputation.
The Hoffman Assemblage
     Irish Tenement and Saloon
 Newly arrived immigrants worked in a variety of
  skilled and unskilled jobs, including construction,
  carpentry, masonry, dressmaking, printing,
  housekeeping, and hat making.
 Men, women, and even children contributed to the
  family income which hovered around $600 a year,
  enough to put meat on the table at most meals and
  buy fashionable household goods and clothing.
 For working-class men, life included membership in
  fraternal orders, trade unions, and fire companies
  as well as the camaraderie of the many local grog
 Women formed strong support networks in the
  tenements, sharing the burden of child care and
  domestic responsibilities.
       Irish Tenement Artifacts

                   Soda Bottles   Kids toys
Medicine Bottles
 We have to be careful not to let the biases of
  nineteenth-century observers, men like George
  Foster who were outsiders to the neighborhood,
  prevent us from hearing the voices of the actual
  residents who lived there.
 The Five Points artifacts speak for those whom
  Walt Whitman described in 1842 as "...not
  paupers and criminals, but the Republic's most
  needed asset, the wealth of stout poor men
  [and we will add women] who will work" (the
 Underwater Historic Archaeology
 The Thomas Wilson was a riveted-steel, single propeller
  freight-carrying steamship.
 The Wilson was built during the winter of 1891-1892 at
  West Superior, Wisc., and was launched April 30, 1892.
 The wreck of the Wilson is historically significant as the
  best known surviving example of the earliest whaleback
  steamships. Whalebacks were a distinctive type of Great
  Lakes bulk freighter designed by Captain Alexander
  McDougall for the transportation of grain, iron ore and
  lumber in the late 19th century.
 On June 7, 1902, the Thomas Wilson was outbound from
  Duluth Harbor carrying a cargo of Mesabi iron ore. It
  collided with the Hadley, killing nine of the twenty man
The Thomas Wilson

 Diver taking photos