History 789 

Historical Archaeology

Professor Emerson Baker

Salem State excavations at the Balch House, Beverly

Course Syllabus

Some Interesting Web Addresses Related to this Course

Jamestown Rediscovery Project
This is one of the finest historical archaeology sites on the web. It includes excavation results,
virtual exhibits, artifact descriptions and downloadable site reports.

Colony of Avalon

A web site for the seventeenth century colony of Avalon in Newfoundland.

Excavations of the wreck of the Elizabeth and Mary

Parks Canada's excavation of the ship holding the Dorchester Militia that was part of
Sir William Phip's invasion of Canada in 1690.

ArchNet - WWW Virtual Library of Archaeology

This site provides links to hundreds of archaeology sites, around the world.

American Historical Association

Historic St. Mary's City
St. Mary's City was the seventeenth-century capital of Maryland. This museum is based largely
on the archaeology of St. Mary's.

National Trust for Historic Preservation
America's largest organization devoted to preserving historic resources.

The Plymouth Colony Archive Project
Work related to the late James Deetz's research on early Plymoth Colony sites

The Society for Historical Archaeology
The national organization of historical archaeologists. 

National Park Service, Links to the Past
A gateway to many historic resources - including archaeology  at NPS.

Massachusetts Historical Commission
The SHPO (state historic preservation office) for Massachusetts


Historical Archaeology (HIS 789)
M 7PM SB109A


This course is designed as a graduate level introduction to historical archaeology. Historical Archaeology is the archaeological study of the European settlement of North America and elsewhere. This course will provide an introduction to the theory, techniques, and tools of historical archaeology within the context of the history of New England. We will also draw examples from other parts of the U.S. and Canada. Historical archaeology is an interdisciplinary study that draws upon material culture as well as documents to help us reconstruct the past.  Historical archaeology is closely related to historical anthropology and social and cultural history. As such, it is often most useful in studying groups (such as the poor, African-Americans, Native Americans, or women) who are often left out of the written record.  So, we will examine some of these topics, as well as look at other methodological issues.

Course Grade
Written Assignments             35%
Internet Assignment            10%
Class Attendance and Participation    25%
Final Exam                 30%     
Course requirements

1. Required Reading
James Deetz, In Small Things Forgotten, An Archaeology of Early American Life (Exp. & Rev. ed.)
Charles Orser & Brian Fagan, Historical Archaeology
Theresa Singleton, ed., “I, Too, Am America”
Ivor Noel-Hume, Martin’s Hundred
Steve Mrozowski, et al, Living on the Boott
Mary C. Beaudry, ed. Documentary Archaeology in the New World 
plus, other reserve readings

2. Written assignments. You have your choice of:
a. a research paper, of 12-15 pages or more (35% of grade)

b. a 5-6 page book review (15% of grade) and one documentary assignment of approximately 7 to 9 pages in length (20% of grade) The documentary assignment provide you the opportunity to interpret primary historical sources, and discuss your interpretation in a thoughtful and well written essay.
Please note: if you do not have a term paper topic approved by me by class on March 31, I will assume that you are doing option b., and will be handing in your first documentary assignment on that night.  

Regardless of which you choose, you need to speak to me to get paper topics or review books approved.  I encourage you to select a topic, and a book to review early in the semester.

3. Internet Assignment (10% of grade) An exercise designed to introduce you to the internet. If you do not already have access to the Internet, you will apply for a computer account at Salem State, and briefly explore the Internet. Your task is to go on-line on the World Wide Web and explore historical archaeology on the internet, and write a 3-4 page review of two web sites. Take sometime to check out a variety of sites. Then, study three closely, and write a review of each of them. In your reviews, be sure to give the site name, address, a general description of the content, and your editorial comments (why the site was effective or not, whether the information was accurate, how useful was it to our course, etc). Be sure to be critical in your analysis. There are a lot of great sites on the web, with wonderful information, but there is also a lot of misinformation. Due in class, Feb 24.

How to assess a web site

What is the authority of the site?
        .edu – educational
        .org – non-profit organization
        .com – commercial
        .net – network, also commercial

Can you tell who is responsible for the site?
Is it a personal page, or an organization’s page?
Does it give full names, and contact information?

How current is the site information?
    Can you tell when it was last updated?

What does it cite for sources?
    Does it have a bibliography, or other print sources?

Site Appearance and Layout
Is the site well organized? 
    Are there navigation markers throughout?
    Can you easily determine where the information you want is?

Does it have an effective front page?
    Does it provide a good site summary?
    Does it attract your attention?

Is the site visually appealing?
    Does it make sensible use of graphics?
    Does it have excessive “noise”?
    Consistency of design?
    Does it load in reasonable time?

4. Class participation (25% of grade) is critical to success in this class. In addition to your regular contributions, all students will get a chance to lead class discussion.

5. Final Exam (30% of grade). The exam will be cumulative for the semester.

Salem State College is committed to nondiscrimination of Handicapped persons as specified in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students who qualify as handicapped persons under the definition of this act should notify the instructor at the beginning of course so that reasonable modifications may be made when necessary.

HISTORY 789-S1  COURSE OUTLINE – SPRING 2003  Schedule is subject to change

Jan. 24        Introduction to the Course: What Is Historical Archaeology and Why Study it?

Jan. 27        How does Historical Archaeology Work?
        Archaeology and the Internet       
Reading:  Mrozowski et al, Living on the Boott (entire book)
Feb. 3        History, Anthropology, and Historical Archaeology
        Orser & Fagan, Chapter  1, 2, & 3 Deetz, Chapter 1
        Whittenburg, "But What Does it Mean?"
Feb. 10    Historical Archaeological Fieldwork       
Orser & Fagan, ch. 6, 7 & 8
Deetz, ch. 2

Feb. 17    President’s Day, No Class     
Feb. 21    Documentary Archaeology
FRIDAY!    Stone, Artifacts are Not Enough (Beaudry, 68-77)
        Brown, The Behavioral Context of Probate Inventories (Beaudry. 79-82)
        Bragdon, Occupational Differences Reflected in Material Culture (Beaudry 83-91)
        Baker, The World of Thomas Gorges (reserve)
Feb. 24    Archaeology & Material Culture
        Orser & Fagan ch 4 & 5
        Deetz, ch 3
        Yentsch, Farming, Fishing, Whaling and Trading (Beaudry 138-60)

Mar. 3        Material Culture: Foodways
        Bowen, Seasonality: an Agricultural Construct (Beaudry 161-71),
        Bowen, Faunal Remains and Urban Households (reserve)Mar. 3       

Mar. 10    School Vacation, No Class

Mar.  17    Reading the Built Landscape
        Baker et al, Earthfast Architecture (reserve)
        Deetz, chapters 4, 5, and 6
        Kelso, Big Things Remembered (reserve)
        Orser and Fagan, ch 9
Mar. 24    Martin’s Hundred and Jamestown: 17th Century Detective Work
        Noel-Hume, Martin’s Hundred, Entire Book   

Mar. 31    Ethnicity
        Faulkner & Faulkner, Fort Pentagoet and Castine's Habitation (reserve)
        Bragdon, Material Culture of the Christian Indians of New England (Beaudry, 126-31)
        Deetz, ch 7,8
        Orser and Fagan, ch 10

April 7        The Archaeology of Slavery
        Singleton, (complete entire book)
        Deetz, ch. 9
April 14    Merchants and Elite Life
        The Archaeology of Manners (reserve)
        Beaudry, Farm Journal: First Person, Four Voices (reserve)

April 21    Patriot’s Day – No Class       

April 25    TBA

April 28    Consumerism & The Future of the Past
        Miller, Classification and Economic Scaling (Beaudry 172-83)
        Mrozowski, For Gentlemen of Capacity and Leisure  (Beaudry 184-91)
        Orser & Fagan, ch. 11 & 12

May 5        Final Exam


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