Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Second Advisor

David B. Landon

Third Advisor

John M. Steinberg


Conflict Archaeology is a relatively new subdiscipline of archaeology evolving out of the realization that battles are not the only form of military endeavor. In order to define a methodological and conceptual framework for the discipline, conflict archaeologists have adopted standard military analytical procedures and terminology. KOCOA (or OKOCA) is a standard form of military terrain analysis that conflict archaeologists use as an aid in defining battlefield boundaries and interpreting battlefield archaeological remains. KOCOA is a military acronym that stands for Key or Decisive Terrain; Observation and Fields of Fire; Cover and Concealment; Obstacles; and Avenues of Approach and Withdrawal. The KOCOA approach has been utilized with success on a number of Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Indian Wars battlefields. The National Park Service (NPS) requires the application of KOCOA in locating boundaries and evaluating the preservation potential of historic battlefields as part of the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP). Conflict Archaeologists have adopted and utilized KOCOA without appreciating its full potential or limitations. To date, KOCOA has mostly been applied to terrestrial battlefields that are already at least partially preserved or are otherwise relatively undisturbed. There have been few applications of KOCOA to urbanized sites or to coastal or riverine sites where naval engagements have taken place. If KOCOA is to form part of the methodological and conceptual framework of Conflict Archaeology, than it needs to be applicable in all circumstances. This thesis test the applicability and utility of KOCOA in urban coastal environments through the examination of the Battle of Chelsea Creek, an important, but little known battle between American Provincial Militia and British naval forces on May 27 - 28, 1775 on the outskirts of Boston.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Thesis is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this thesis through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.