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

Dennis Piechota


This master’s thesis uses a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometer to date and identify flat green glass fragments from English colonial sites in New England. Three sites from the 17th-century Plymouth Colony produced flat glass tested in this thesis. These sites include the Burial Hill site (164 samples), the Alden site (764 samples), and the Standish site (21 samples). Based on the pXRF testing conducted, it was determined that 17th-century flat glass samples can be identified and dated using elemental and physical characteristics. Green window glass produced between 1567 and 1700 can be identified by the presence of a relative strontium content of less than 29,000 counts, a relative lead content less than 4,293 counts, and a thickness of less than 3 mm. Green case bottle glass that was produced between 1567 and 1700 can be identified by a relative strontium content less than 29,000 counts and a relative lead content more than 4,293 counts. Flat glass fragments with strontium counts higher than 29,000 cannot be identified but can be dated to being produced between 1660 and 1835. These characteristics were used to date 949 flat glass fragments from the three sites listed above and to identify 869 of those fragments. This identification and dating analysis concludes that the residents of the Burial Hill site likely had easier access to newer and a wider variety of goods compared to the Alden site. Flat glass samples from the Standish site were deposited after the site was demolished. Finally, the variable lead and strontium composition in flat glass fragments at these sites indicates the possibility of an experimental time period in English glass production during the 17th century.