ANT-2100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: George Duckworth, Colonial Williamsburg, Historical Archaeology

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21 Nov 2016
Historical Archaeology
Distinction between prehistoric and historic depends heavily upon the amount of written texts
available from the civilizations
Historical archaeology: archaeology of culture contact in the Americas when Europeans
entered and interacted with native peoples
Ivor Noēl Hume
Director of Colonial Williamsburg archaeology program,1957
Director of Williamsburg Department of Archaeology until 1988 (retired)
“a historian with a pen in one hand and a trowel in the other”
handmaiden to history - historical archaeology was just a way to confirm information already
provided from historical texts
Three distinct characteristics of historical archaeology
1. Post-processual - texts, ethnohistoric data, oral traditions
Can learn about symbols, ethnicity, income, religion, family composition, economic
networks, politics
Can get perspectives of the people who lived at that time
2. Shortened time periods
Documentary sources give:
Precise dates for use of a site
Change in use over time
Can focus on individuals and events that were part of larger processes
3. Closer to us temporally and emotionally
Deals with last 500 years (or so) in the United States
Story of immigration of different ethnic groups, many we can trace our ancestry to
Major themes in historical archaeology
Study of historical disenfranchised groups
African Americans
Asian Americans
Native Americans int he historic period
Hispanic Americans
Looks at questions of historical interest that are often answered unsatisfactorily by history
written by victors/dominant paradigm, biased
Nature of European colonialism and its effects on indigenous peoples
critical analysis of our history
Foodways, Economic Status, and the Antebellum Upland South in Central Kentucky
4 sites in Central Kentucky
19th century farmsteads
Upland South cultural tradition
Cowan farmstead (1830-1870)
2002-2003 excavations
Who lived there?
Robert Cowan and his family
middling farmers (owned their own land and farmed it; not wealthy but above meager
subsistence - had enough to live comfortably)
isolated geographically from other farms and markets
had to be self-sufficient
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