Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Christa Beranek

Second Advisor

David Landon

Third Advisor

Douglas Bolender


This thesis seeks to further understanding of early colonial life within New England through an examination of the John and Priscilla Alden First Home site in Duxbury, MA, excavated in 1960 by Roland Robbins. It specifically focuses on the composition and spatial distribution of the ceramic assemblage to discuss household activities and the spaces in which they were performed. The findings of the ceramic analysis detail a collection composed primarily of utilitarian vessels that indicate multiple subsistence farming activities including dairying. The spatial study reveals the significant patterning of these artifacts. It is proposed that these denote specific activity areas within the household, such as individual rooms and trash disposal practices. An architectural plan for the First Home site is then hypothesized utilizing these findings.

The results of this thesis accomplish two goals. First, they offer insight on the daily, domestic lives of the Alden family themselves and therefore contribute information on how these individuals functioned and thrived within the New World. Second, through comparative analyses with additional 17th-century sites within New England, a more detailed view of the early colonial lifestyle with its various cultural materials and behaviors can be created.