Date of Award

8-1-2013

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Judith F. Zeitlin

Second Advisor

Christa Beranek

Third Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Abstract

The goal of this thesis is to argue that rural colonial tenancy, in this case on the eighteenth-century Pennsylvania frontier, manifests itself in the archaeological record most clearly through a site's location on the landscape, rather than in material artifact assemblages. Inconsistencies in the conclusions of archaeological studies of rural tenancy that have relied heavily on a social and economic scale known as the agricultural ladder have lead a number of archaeologists to maintain that the material correlates of the agricultural ladder are regionally based, relating to each particular site's location within regional, national, and international market networks. This thesis incorporates this view by identifying and taking into account power relations as they existed on the Pennsylvania backcountry in the middle of the eighteenth century. This information is used in the interpretation of an archaeological site representing the home of an immigrant tenant weaver, Peter Glück.

In the summer of 2008 and spring of 2009, the author conducted archaeological excavations at the site of Peter Glück's home, located in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Peter Glück settled in Northeastern Berks County during an economic boom period in Pennsylvania. His family made their home among fellow German Lutherans in an area characterized by highly dispersed farmsteads and high geographical mobility among its residents. Glück chose the location of his tenancy wisely, settling on the land of a miller, Elias Stein, whose mill was likely one of the focal points of an otherwise ad hoc community. At a time when flour milling was the most important industry in the Pennsylvania backcountry, this arrangement with Stein provided Glück immediate access to a broad range of markets, specifically through merchants in the nearby town of Reading. Glück would have been able to obtain similar commodities as the landowner, but because he did not own the land he lived on, he had no control over where his house was located on the landscape. The goal of this thesis is to demonstrate that it is this simple difference, the poor geographical location of his home, which sets Peter Glück apart from the landowner, Elias Stein, in the archaeological record.

Comments

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