Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Second Advisor

Heather B. Trigg

Third Advisor

Stephen W. Silliman


The Smith's Point site was a seasonally inhabited Native American encampment in Yarmouth, Massachusetts occupied from the Middle Woodland through the early Colonial periods. Excavations at the site in the early 1990s yielded the remains of a multi-component site including both an agricultural field and an adjacent living area. The macrobotanical remains from the agricultural and living area features were examined for this thesis project in order to investigate subsistence practices at the site. The findings show that Native Americans actively shaped these ecological niches for purposes such as maintaining and improving their subsistence base. These landscape management activities included field burning and maize agriculture.

Beginning with 16th and 17th century European settler's and explorer's written accounts of New England, the "New World" has often been described as a pristine wilderness in which Native Americans play a passive role. In fact, as the Smith's Point site macrobotanical data indicate, Native Americans were actively and perpetually altering their ecosystems. Therefore, I conclude that past landscapes at the site were not pristine wilderness but rather culturally constructed niches.