ANTH 313, Historical Archaeology

Fall Semester 2017


Instructor: Donny L. Hamilton

Office: Room 102B, Anthropology Building 11:10 AM-12:25 PM

Phone: (979) 845-6355


Office Hours: 9-11 AM Monday &Wednesday, or by appointment


Class Information Portal:

Class syllabus:  


Book Portal for DropBox Shared files:


Historical archaeology has been defined in a number of ways. Perhaps the simplest definition is the one that holds that "Historical archaeology is the study of the remains from any historic period." A historic period being any period in which the cultures in question have a documentary record and that writing has a full impact both on the culture being studied and in the scholarship of the investigation.


As applied and defined in this course, historical archaeology is the study of European Cultures (generally Western European) and their spread into the New World from post-1500 to the recent past. However, the spread of Asian and African cultures into the New World are also included. In historical archaeology research, written documentation usually contribute as much to the research as the archaeological excavations and material culture. In fact, historical archaeology is an intimate marriage of archaeology and documents. A range of cultures, time periods and material culture are represented. The intent is present to the students in the class an overview of the subject through lectures, films, slides, covering a selection of historic sites that represent the types of research being conducted in historical archaeology. As much as possible, the subject of historical archaeology will be presented by using examples from on-going research.


Accordingly, the Internet will be used extensively for topical examples to exemplify on-going

archaeological research. If you do not have a personal computer, then you can access the web

pages at the library computer center.


Course Objectives: This course is designed to introduce students to the archaeological study of

the recent past with an emphasis on the 16th -18th-century spread of western European culture to

the New World. The class will focus on key archaeological site to demonstrate different

excavations techniques, different material culture, different documents utilized to interpret the

archaeological data.


Reference Texts:

Historical Archaeology, 2004, by Charles E. Orser, Jr

In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life, 1996, by James Deetz.


Key Sites:

The 1554 Plate Fleet, Padre Island, Texas- Spanish ships

Port Royal, Jamaica (1655-1692) sunken city, English town

The Belle- French (1686), Matagorda Bay, Texas, French ship

1554 Plate Fleet, Padre Island, Texas, Spanish ships

Jamestown - Wolstenholm Virginia, 1607- ) English town

George Beard House, 1891-2015, stone house site, Milano, TX,



Post-Medieval Pottery 1650-1800 by Jo Draper –book portal

A Guide to the Artifacts of Colonial America by Ivor Noel Hume

Method and Theory in Historical Archaeology, Stanley South

Archaeological Perspectives on Ethnicity in America ed. by Robert L. Schuyler

Text Aided Archaeology ed. by Barbara J. Little.



Nautical Archaeology --  

Society for Historical Archaeology -   

The Society for Post Medieval Archaeology -


FILMS: (tentative)

Other People's Garbage

Search for a Century - Wolstenholm

Graveyard of the Gulf - 1554 Plate Fleet

City Under the Sea - Port Royal, Jamaica 1655-1691

The Skeletons of Spitalfields.



For the latest version of the course syllabus, see:  which has

the links to Internet reading assignments.



Tuesday: Harvey Day

Thursday: Basic Introduction


Week 2: Sept. 5, 7: Locating and Analyzing Historic Sites Patterning Recognition

Tuesday, Film: "Other People's Garbage" & Discussion

Thursday:All read in Stanley South, 1976      or book  portal

Chapter 2, Pattern Recognition

Chapter 8, Methodological Considerations, pp. 277-314

The Brunswick Pattern of Refuse Disposal pp. 47-80

The Carolina Artifact Pattern pp. 83-138

The Frontier Artifact Pattern, pp. 141-163

Exploring Analytical Techniques -

The Kitchen Artifact Pattern pp. 167-199


Week 3: Sept. 12, 14: Early 17th-Century English sites

Jamestown, Wolstenholm and Plimouth,

Thurs: Film - Search for a Century & Discussion

Nat. Geog. June 1979, Vol. 155, No. 6, pp. 735-767.- portal link

Nat. Geog. Jan. 1981, pp. 53-77. – portal link

Plimouth, Massachusetts: Archival Project

All the following links can be accessed through the following link:  

Glossary of Terms

Seminar Reports:

Plimouth Probate Records


Week 4: Sept. 19, 21: Port Royal, Jamaica

 Port Royal, Jamaica, A Late 17th-century English Site

Architecture, Brick Buildings

Port Royal History/Excavations Web Page

Read: Hamilton, Archaeology, Jan./Feb. 1984, Vol. 37, No. 1 and Science Year 1986,

Port Royal Excavation – PowerPoint – portal link.

Deetz, Chpt. 5, pp. 92-117, I Would Have the Howse Stronge in Timber

also can be found at:

Selected Wills:

Vernacular House Forms:


Week 5: Sept. 26, 28: Port Royal Continued

Simon Benning, Pewterer of Port Royal, pp. 39-54, Text-Aided Archaeology, ed. Little.

or on the Internet at:

Port Royal  Reports


Week 6: Oct.3, 5: Historic Ceramics

Deetz, Chpt. 3, All the Earthenware Plain and Flowered.-portal

Barber, Exercise 13, Typology

English Ceramic System and Foodways

Post-Medieval Pottery 1650-1800 by Jo Draper

Tin-glazed earthenware:

Chamber Pots:




Mean Ceramic Dating

South, 1978 Chpt 17,  Evolution and Horizon as Revealed in Ceramic Analysis in

Historical Archaeology – portal link


Week 7: Oct. 10,12 Historical Artifacts

Archaeology of Tobacco and Smoking, Pipes, firearms and gunflints, pewter.

Kaolin pipes and pipestem dating- Harrington and portal link


Thurs Oct. 12 - Visit to CRL to view Port Royal Artifacts


Week 8: Oct 17, 18: Tuesday, First Examination,

Thurs: Documents and Genealogical Research


Simon Benning, Pewterer of Port Royal, pp. 39-54, Text-Aided Archaeology, ed. Little.

or on the Internet at:  Documents and


"Following the Written Record Trail" and Genealogical Research - an example - The Ross-

Hamilton Records:


Genealogy Exercise to be turned no later than Thursday, Nov. 17, 2017


First off, ask your parents, grandparents and any relative who is said to know your family history.  Then, fill out the charts as well as you can, starting with yourself. Then go to one Go to Evans Library or any of the on-line web sites and find one of your ancestors in the 1850-1940 US Census (the earlier the better) and print the page. Go to the Internet and download the pedigree chart at:

and the family group record at:


The family group record is provided to add additional information on the entire family of each generation. A separate family group record is used for each generation.  Fill out the charts as well as you can, starting with yourself. Then go to one of the following web sites and conduct a search to see if you can find any connections to any of the names in your family.  


Basic Genealogy Resources - .  You can go on line and get a free 15 or 30 day membership.  JUST BE SURE TO CANCEL AFTER 30 DAYS OR IT WILL INCUR A CHARGE. is no longer active, but all the old files are still accessible. - Church of Latter Day Saints - . – accessible free through Evans Library. Access to US censuses and lots of family histories, genealogy reports and publications. 

Family Tree Maker -– to record your data.

Conduct a Google Search for "free genealogy software" to download a program to record your family records.


Follow out any leads you find and print out each lead. You are more likely to find a connection the further back in your genealogy you can go, such as your great grandparents or great, great grandparents. Using the data on your chart and the US Census, find a minimum of four or more records such as a marriage record, death record, probate records, deed record on the same relative. Try to find one of your ancestors in a US Census, 1850 - 1940. If you cannot find any of your own ancestors, then use someone that is somehow related -- such as someone with the same surname in the same locality as your relatives. If necessary, use a historic figure as a last resort. Write a report on your search and findings. Point out any revelations or insights the research contributed to your understanding of your family and the relevance of genealogy to historic research. If you find any hits on your searches on the Internet, you can arrange with me to search the files of for material that is available in their databases which require membership.   All the images of the US Censuses are available as well as many state and county records Also as a TAMU student you have access to Heritage Quest which has all the censuses and many family histories and historic documents as well. You can also get a 30 day free membership on which will give you access to all the US Censuses and numerous other records.


The1940 US Census is the latest to be released. If your family is from Texas or the South, the TAMU Evans Library has all the census records for Texas and many of the southern states. Also, the Carnegie Library in Bryan has many of the census records. This exercise is intended to expose you to the basic documents used in genealogical research that is conducted when one excavates a historic site. This written Genealogy Exercise is based on at least four different documents you discuss the information they provided.  The report is due no later than November 17, 2017 The report is due no later than November 17, 2017 and must include copies of each document or source you include, as well as the pedigree chart, and the family group form.


If your family is from Texas or the South, the TAMU Evans Library has all the Texas

and many of the southern states Census Records. This exercise is the basis of the

type of genealogical research that is conducted when one excavates a historic site.


Consider this exercise as a way of finding out things about your family that you

never knew. is a good starting point.


If you cannot find any records on any line of your family, you can select anyone, your room

mate=s family, some famous person and that will be OK. This is an exercise on historic

records;  so as long as you finds three different records on the same individual, or family

members, that will suffice. Normally, censuses, wills, inventories, marriage certificates,

death certificates, tombstones, bibles, deeds, military records, pension records, social security, photographs, “Find a Grave” search, etc. are the most common records.


Week 9, Oct. 24, 26:

Texas Shipwrecks The 1554 Spanish Plate Fleet

Read; Shipwreck in the Wake of Columbus, Section IV, pp. 102-111 by Barto Arnold,

in Archaeology Underwater, ed. Keith Muckelroy.

Doris Olds, Texas Legacy from the Gulf – book portal

Slides/Film on the 1554 Fleet excavations in Texas

1554 PowerPoint Presentation link through portal


Week 10: Oct. 31, Nov. 2: La Salle' Ships,

Thurs.: Film, La Belle 1684-1686 - Voyage of Doom, NOVA – book portal

Bullock State Historical Museum, Austin, TX – La Belle Exhibit


Explore the shipwreck, by Steve Hoyt:  

Stories in the Timbers, by Toni Carrell:

Who Owns shipwrecks:


Look at reports 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7.

Fort St. Louis:


WEEK 11: Nov. 7, 9: Special Analyses, Excavation of "holes"

Privies, Cisterns, Wells, Graves: Skeletal material

Tues: Film: The Skeletons of Spitalfield. 

Class tour of Conservation Laboratory.  Class will meet in Room 101, Anthropology Building.  Artifacts from Port Royal, Jamaica and other sites will be laid out for students to identify and turn in an artifact identification list.



Supplementary Readings:

Deetz Chpt. 4, Remember Me as you Pass By

Jamestown, Virginia Rediscovery Web Page - Jamestown skeleton

La Belle Skeleton

St Mary City, Lead Coffins


WEEK 12: Nov. 14, 16:  Tuesday, Second Examination

Ethnic Archaeology- Current Trends

Deetz, Chpt. 7, Parting Ways, pp. 138-154

Read: Race and Class on Antebellum Plantations by John Otto, Chpt. 1, pp. 3-13.

Archaeology Visibility of Afro-American Culture: An Example from Black Lucy's

Garden, Andover, Massachusetts, Chpt. 3, pp. 29-37.

Above two articles are in Archaeological Perspectives on Ethnicity in America.

Deetz, Chpt. 7, pp. 138-154 , Parting Ways

Levi Jordan Plantation: UNRAVELING THE 1850 and 1860 SLAVE SCHEDULES, by

Spencer McCall"



WEEK 13, Nov. 21,  Thursday, Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Holiday:

Tues.: Make-up Exams

Only students making up an examination need to attend class.

Thurs.  Nov. 23, 2017, Thanksgiving Holiday


WEEK 14, Nov. 28, 30:

Thurs.: 19th-Century Archaeology - George W. Beard House, Milano, TX

PowerPoint through portal

Richard Carter Site, College Station, TX Brazos County Texas


WEEK 15, Dec. 5: Tuesday, Last Day of Class.



Examination Schedule (tentative)

1st exam, Tuesday, Oct. 17 ,2017

2nd exam, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017

Genealogy Exercise, due by Nov 17, 2017 or anytime sooner.

Make-up examination day, Wednesday, November 21, 2017

Final Examination: Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, 3:00-5:00 PM


Course Grade Determination: Each student's grade will be based on his/her performance

on two semester exams (25% each for a total of 50%), (20% for the genealogy exercise,

and  (10% from single question exams given weekly over assigned readings.

The highest 10 exams will be averaged for 10% of the final grade, and a final exam (20%).


Bonus 10% for selecting one of the cursive, handwritten inventories (PDF scan) from Port Royal (1700s) and transcribe it.  Then write a short report on what information you derived from it that would be useful if you happened to be excavation the property of the individual. Turn in a copy of the inventory, your transcription, and your report. 




Attendance Policy:

“The University views class attendance as the responsibility of an individual student. Attendance is essential to complete the course successfully. University rules related to excused and unexcused absences are located on-line at"


Plagiarism :
The handouts used in this course are copyrighted. By "handouts," I mean all materials generated for this class, which include but are not limited to syllabi, quizzes, exams, lab problems, in class materials, review sheets, and additional problem sets. Because these materials are copyrighted, you do not have the right to copy the handouts, unless I expressly grant permission.
 As commonly defined, plagiarism consists of passing off as one's own the ideas, words, writings, etc., which belong to another. In accordance with this definition, you are committing plagiarism if you copy the work of another person and turn it in as your own, even if you should have the permission of that person. Plagiarism is one of the worst academic sins, for the plagiarist destroys the trust among colleagues without which research cannot be safely communicated.
 If you have any questions regarding plagiarism, please consult the latest issue of the Texas A&M University Student Rules, under the section "Scholastic Dishonesty



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