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ANT 4930 Historical Archaeology

Dr. Davidson

Course Description and Objectives:

Archaeology is the study of the past – people and everything they were, their public acts and private hopes – or at least it is an earnest attempt to “construct” this past through a meticulous examination of material objects, the greater landscape, and the social milieu under which these men, women, and children lived and died. In myriad ways, history preserves with greatest clarity the dominate narrative of society, but its alternative voices and experiences are inevitably less well-known, often willfully suppressed, and occasionally all but lost.  The power of archaeology is that it can literally rescue lost time, and resurrect silenced voices.


This course documents these efforts in the field of Historical Archaeology, which is the study of European expansion, colonialism and capitalism, as well as the impacts of these and other forces on both European and non-Western peoples across the globe from the 15th century to the present day.


This course will establish the basic history of the discipline, from its birth in the 1930s, to its identity crisis in the 1950s and 1960s, to the present day.  Along with more theoretical papers, specific case studies will be used to address a variety of topics such as Material Culture, Artifact Patterning, Consumerism and Socioeconomics, Ethnic Identity, Race and Racism, Gender, and Ideology, as well as other related topics. Our view of Historical Archaeology will be both particularistic and global.


While it is lecture-driven, active feedback, true dialogue and a directed course discussion is vital. Additionally, opportunities will also be presented for hands-on, experiential learning in the department’s Historical Archaeology laboratory, located on the first floor of Turlington Hall. Here students can get first-hand experience with artifacts derived from historical sites in Florida, including artifacts once owned by enslaved Africans from two early 19th century plantations, and objects from Fort Mose, an 18th century fort and settlement for runaway Africans in St. Augustine, which was the first free black town in what would become the United States.