Historical Archaeology

Architectural History 3604/7604
Anthropology 3850/7855

Place: Campbell 105
University of Virginia Wednesday: 3:30-6:00
Fall 2015 Fraser D.Neiman

Historical archaeology is the archaeological study of the continental and transoceanic human migrations that began in the fifteenth century, their effects on native peoples, and historical trajectories of the societies that they created. This course offers an introduction to the field. It emphasizes how theoretical models, analytical methods, and archaeological data can be combined to make and evlaluate credible inferences about the cultural dynamics of the past. The class combines short lectures and discussion, with computer workshops, in which students have a chance to explore with real archaeological data historical issues raised in the reading and lectures.

Our principle historical focus this semester is change in the conflicting economic and social strategies pursued by Europeans, Africans, and Native-Americans, and their descendents in the 17th-century and 18th-century Chesapeake. The course is designed to teach students in architectural history, history, and archaeology how to use theoretical models, simple statistical methods, and software applications, including spreadsheets, databases, and GIS, to address important historical questions

The course is structured around three projects.
  • Project 1: Stylistic Dynamics of White and Red-Clay Pipes.
    In the first project we will look at change over time at Jamestown in one of the world's earliest mass-produced consumer goods: clay tobacco pipes. We will use the seriation method, models of consumption, and some simple statistical techniques to measure and explain variation in imported and locally-made pipe assemblages. What factors led to the rise and demise of locally made pipes in the Chesapeake during the 17th century? What can this tell us about changing social structure?

  • Project 2: House Plans, Site Structure, and the Use of Space.
    In the second project we will investigate variation in early plantation house plans and the use of space around them. We will evaluate hypotheses about the social use of space, based on plans, against independent evidence from the spatial distribution of artifacts around houses, using geostatistical techniques. What can we learn from plans and artifact distributions about changing social relationships between elites and the servants and slaves that worked for them during the 17th and early-18th centuries?

  • Project 3: Gentry House Plans in the Chesapeake and England.
    In the final project we use space-syntax analysis to explore variation between the plans of 18th and early 19th-century houses built by elites in the Chesapeake and England. Is it possible to demonstrate quantitatively that Chesapeake houses were engineered in unique ways to cope with slavery?

In completing your work for the three projects, you are welcome to help one another think through arguments, models, and methods we are using and understand how they are implemented on the computer. However, I expect each of you to do every analytical step and to write up the results. Using intermediate or final results in a project that you did not obtain yourself will be considered an honor violation.

Project papers should include 8-10 pages of text. The text should reference, at appropriate points, statistical graphics, maps, and plans in support of your arguments. These figures should be numbered sequentially, with the figure numbers placed in the text. The numbered figures themsleves should appear at the end of the text. Each figure should have a caption, so that the reader knows exactly what it portrays and your take on its larger significance.

You should cite all sources on which you have drawn in completing the project. Your citations should follow the American Antiquity style guide, as outlined in section 3.4 here.

Course Schedule and Reading
The schedule and readling list for the course are available here. All journal articles and book chapters will be found on Collab.

Office Hours, etc.
My office is in the Monticello Archaeology Lab. A bit of a hike. But you are welcome to come up for a chat. Official office hours are from 8:00-10:00, Monday morning. Or email me for an appointment. In addition, there will be an informal lab session at the Scholar's Lab in Alderman, Thursdays from 4:00 to 5:15, at which I'll be available to answer questions.

Software Tools
  • Excel Tutorial
    Excel skills a bit rusty? Check out these video tutorials. The link takes you to the first of nine lessons.
  • Scatterplot Labels for Excel
    An Excel Add-In that allows you to label scatterplots (something that Lotus-123 could do in 1982, but Excel cannot, 20 years later). If you have administrator privileges on your machine, click the link and download to a folder on your hard drive. Double click the self-extracting archive XYChartLabeler.exe. Checkout readme.doc for further instructions. If you do not have administrator privileges, click here to download a macro file called XYChartLabeler.xlam, which you can load into Excel manually.
  • Pipestem means and standard deviations in Excel
    Data from Harrington 1954.
  • Frequency-Seriation Diagrams
    An Excel spreadsheet with VBA code by Bill Hunt and Carl Lipo that draws frequency-seriation diagrams a la Jim Ford.
  • Instructions on how to snag a copy of ArcGIS for your laptop. From our good friends Chris Gist and Kelly Johnston over at the Scholar's Lab in Alderman Library.
I expect you to do the assigned reading on time and come to class prepared to share your insights. Please anticipate fielding questions from me on the reading. Written work for the course consists of the three class projects, 8-10 pages each. There will also be occasional short homework assignments. The class projects are due at the beginning of class on the day specified in the Course Schedule. Each student is responsible for doing a brief (~15 minutes), illustrated presentation to the class on the results of one of the projects. Presentations will be given on the due-date of the project. You can weigh in on which project you would prefer to present to the class, but there are no guarantees since we need to arrange the presentations so they are uniformly distributed across projects.

Late Work Policy
I will deduct 1 letter grade for each day that written work is late, without written documentation from a physician or Dean attesting to your physical incapacity. Please plan your work accordingly.

Honor Policy
I trust every student in this course will comply with the provisions of the Honor System of the University of Virginia. I reserve the right to determine all grades in this course, regardless of the outcome of any honor investigation. By enrolling in this course, you are signaling your acceptance of these stipulations. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the course honor policy. If you believe you may have committed an Honor Offense, you may wish to file a Conscientious Retraction ("CR") by calling the Honor Offices at (434) 924-7602. For your retraction to be considered valid, it must, among other things, be filed with the Honor Committee before you are aware that the Act in question has come under suspicion by anyone. More information on the Honor System can be found here.

Class participation: 15%; the three class projects: 20 each%; the project presentation: 10%; homework: 15%.