Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

David B. Landon

Second Advisor

Douglas J. Bolender

Third Advisor

Stephen W. Silliman


This study summarizes and interprets the faunal collection from the Experience Mayhew Site on Martha’s Vineyard to explore the impact of the changing ecology on the island and its effects on the diets of the people living there. The site was occupied from the later 17th to the early 18th century by the Mayhews, an English colonial family known for their missionary work among the Wampanoag of Martha’s Vineyard. This zooarchaeological collection is compared to assemblages from two contemporaneous sites: the Winslow Site in Massachusetts and Sylvester Manor in New York. The results of this analysis indicate that European domesticates were the primary source of food for the household, almost to the complete exclusion of wild taxa, with some animals raised by the household and others acquired from markets or other sources. This information suggests that ecological context, environmental affordance, and shared dietary resources among all of Martha’s Vineyard’s residents structured the household’s consumption patterns and much as did any assumed “cultural preference” for menu items.


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