Spring 2005         T-Th 1:40-2:55

Course Syllabus        Dr. Barbara Borg


Faculty office:  88 Wentworth, Room101  (cream colored brick building on corner of St. Philip and Wentworth).  Office hours:  Tues. and Thurs. 3:15-4:15p.m.,  and many MWF hours by special appointment; or e-mail me: borgb@cofc.edu.  Phone: 953-5408  (my private office and answering machine), or 953-5738 (leave message with Soc./Anthro. secretary).  Items may also be left in my faculty mailbox, Soc/Anthro.  main departmental office, 2nd floor, 19 St. Philip St.



What is the study of Archaeology?

            Archaeology means the ‘study of’ the ‘old’ (from the Greek ‘arkhaios’ + ‘logos’).  It is part of the broader field of anthropology which is the study of human beings in all times and in all places.  Archaeologists interpret the material record of patterned human behavior in the past.  An archaeologist does not study “fossils” such as sharks’ teeth or dinosaur bones, although one special kind of archaeologist--the human paleontologist--excavates and studies the remains of our human “fossil” ancestors and their development over a 4-5 million year span.               Prehistoric archaeology deals with the material remains of ancient human cultures worldwide for which no historical (written) records are available.  This includes about 99% of human history.  While the popular view of archaeologists is that they “dig” to recover ancient artifacts, archaeologists are primarily interested in collecting information about past human behavior.  Portable artifacts such as pottery or projectile points,  non-movable features such as burials, walls, and ancient agricultural fields, and environmental ecofacts (ecological clues that are not man-made or man-modified) such as plant parts, snail shells, or ancient pollen are just several of many different kinds of data collected.  It is the vertical and horizontal relationships among all material remains found in an archaeological site that yield the vital information which takes us beyond the artifacts themselves.  Archaeologists systematically measure, record, and photograph all of this information which together forms the archaeological context.  It is this “context” (ultimately, interpretation) which is lost when looters focus only upon the objects and not on the relationships among them.  In addition to excavation, archaeologists today utilize many sophisticated scientific methods to learn about archaeological sites.  The popular view of archaeology presented in films like the Indiana Jones series, while entertaining, is very misleading.   Archaeology is a fascinating scientific pursuit, but it virtually never resembles such thrilling and dangerous treasure hunts.  Few archaeologists look for or find gold, jewels, tombs, or mummies.   Many do discover a wealth of fascinating information about the cultures they study. Only 25% of archaeology is fieldwork (site location and excavation): 75% is laboratory research and writing.


What is Historical Archaeology?

            Historical archaeology is the other branch of archaeology which deals with more recent sites for which some kind of written record exists to aid in the interpretation of past human activities. These written records include such documents as early travelers’ accounts, maps, letters, trading records, tax, census, and other administrative documents, missionary accounts, and written histories.  Historical archaeologists must often master some of the skills of the historian (documents, often in foreign languages, and oral or “unofficial” histories), the architectural historian (early building techniques and structure styles), and the ceramic specialist (site dating using historically documented ceramics), and they must also know how to combine these with appropriate techniques from prehistoric archaeology.  Much of the archaeology done here in Charleston is colonial period historical archaeology, which provides data for the reconstruction and public interpretation of 

BorgHistArchSp05  p.2


historic houses, structures like the Old Powder Magazine, the Old Courthouse reconstruction, the Civil War submarine Hunley, the historic plantations, and the history of African Americans and other ethnic groups.  The Charleston Museum employs two full-time historical archaeologists.  In addition, preservation organizations, private consulting companies, and government agencies also employ archaeologists in our region.  The Charleston area is just one focus of historical archaeology across our nation and, of course, throughout the world.  When you think of archaeology you may be most familiar with the ancient Egyptians or the Maya of Central America who built pyramids and developed high civilizations.  Both of these cultures had forms of writing, however, which assists archaeologists in their study.  Because such early writing provides only a partial record of elite behavior, prehistoric archaeological techniques are also employed to reconstruct the nature of the entire society--part of the holistic approach of the broader field of anthropology. Historical archaeology also has the potential to teach us about ourselves, since we are less far removed from the people who lived in more recent “historical” sites.  Tracing the history of the Chinese in California, the Norse attempts to colonize Nova Scotia, the fishing exploits of sixteenth-century Basque whalers off the NE Canadian coast, and the process of the enslavement of African Americans (as well as the survival of elements of African culture) in the New World are just a few examples.  Implicit in these examples is a concern for the “little guy” or the “common man” whose lifestyle was often not written about in historical documents.

            Underlying the European colonial historical past of Charleston and the rest of the Western Hemisphere is the Native American past.  Most Native Americans (except the Mayas of Central America) had no written language, and there were no historical accounts written about them until the arrival of Europeans.  In this respect Native Americans are like many other peoples worldwide whose past sites, behaviors, and cultures must be studied largely in the absence of written records.  Yet the most recent periods in Native American “history” are also accessible through the field of historical archaeology.

            Our course begins with a beautiful, readable, and fascinating classic work in historical archaeology by James Deetz.  We then progress to the Orser and Fagan text and the Orser reader.  The text will help us to trace the development of modern historical archaeology as a discipline, show how scientists explain the historical past,  illustrate the intersection of culture, class, gender, ethnicity, and race with archaeology, and  give us a feel for historical archaeology done world-wide.  The reader contains overviews of historical archaeology as well as examples of specific sites and archaeological questions for study.  For example, one fascinating reader article focuses on Mrs. Starr who ran a successful 19th c. house of prostitution.  The course concludes with a case study which pulls everything you have learned together, describing historical archaeological and documentary research at the Lighthouse Site (which was nowhere near the water!).




Reading Assignments (Read by class time listed)   Daily Topic from readings and/or lecture    



TH        1/13      No assignment.   Introduction,  textbooks, syllabus.


T          1/18      DEETZ: Intro (pp.ix-xiii);  and      Archaeology and the American artifact;                                            Chapters 1 and 2  (pp. 1-67)          The Anglo-American Past

                                    VIDEO: SEARCH FOR A CENTURY (@ 50 min.)


TH        1/20      DEETZ: Chapters  3 and 4            All the Earthenware Plain and Flowered;                 

                        (pp. 68- 124)      Remember  Me as You Pass By.   


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Reading Assignments (Read by class time listed)   Daily Topic from readings and/or lecture    



T          1/25      DEETZ: Chapters 5 and 6 I  Would Have the Howse Stronge in Timber;

                        (pp.  125-186)     Small Things Remembered.


TH        1/27      DEETZ:  Chapters 7, 8 & 9          Parting Ways;  The African American Past;

                        (pp. 187-260)      Small Things Forgotten.



T          2/1        ORSER & FAGAN:  Preface (p. x),           What is Historical Archaeology?            Archaeology                               and Chapter 1 (pp. 1-22)   of the Recent Past; Three Past Definitions;       

                        READER: Orser. “Images of the Recent Past”          Defining Today’s Historical Archaeology.

                        (pp. 9-13)

                        IN CLASS: QUIZ over all of Deetz

                        DUE TODAY: 1 article summary                                                


TH        2/3        ORSER & FAGAN: Chapter 2 (pp. 23-44)  Brief History of Hist. Arch.:  Important & Famous

                        READER: “Recent Perspectives”    Ordinary People (post-1960);  Theory; Today.

                        (pp. 14-15)

                        READER: Deagan.  “Avenues of Inquiry...” Avenues of Study in Historical Archaeology.

                        ( pp. 16-41 )                                          

                        READER: Little. “People With History...”  An Update on Historical Archaeology in the U.S.

                        (pp.  42-78)

                        DUE TODAY:  3 article summaries


T          2/8        ORSER & FAGAN:        Historical Culture and Historical Sites: Culture,

                        Chapter 3 (pp. 45-70)       Analogies, Direct Historical Approaches; Cultural

                        READER: “People and Places”      Systems, Culture Process; Goals of Hist. Arch.;

                        (pp.           )       Types of Hist. Arch. Sites.                                   

                        READER:  Thomas. “...Sta. Catalina de Guale”

                        (pp. 82-109)       SLIDES: HISTORICAL ARCH. SITES

                        READER: Parrington et al. “The Material World ...”

                        (pp. 110-140)

                        DUE TODAY:  3 article summaries


TH        2/10      ORSER & FAGAN: Chapter 4 (pp. 71-93)  Historical Artifacts: Interpreting Artifacts; Artifacts                         READER: “Historic Artifacts ... Ceramics” as Historical Documents; Artifacts as                                             (pp. 212-214)      Commodities;  Artifacts as Ideas                                                    READER: Turnbaugh. “17th & 18th c. . ..Redwares”

                        (pp. 215-234)

                        READER: Henry.  “Factors Influencing ...Behavior...”

                        (pp. 235-259)

                        READER: Beaudry et al. “Artifacts and Active Voices ...”

                        (pp. 272-310)

                        DUE TODAY: 4 article summaries



T          2/15      EXAM #1    over  Ch. 1 - 4 of Orser and Fagan, all Reader articles, lectures, and videotapes.



TH        2/17      ORSER & FAGAN:        Time & Space: Relative Dating; Objects of

                        Chapter 5 (pp. 95-120)     Known Age; Formula Dating;                                                                    Dendrochronology; Space; Sett. Patts.                    

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Reading Assignments (Read by class time listed)   Daily Topic from readings and/or lecture     



T          2/22      ORSER & FAGAN         Historical Site Survey & Location: Known Sites;     

                        Chapter 6 (pp. 121-139)    Accidental Discoveries; Finding Historic Sites.                                

TH        2/24      ORSER & FAGAN:        Pre-Excavation Fieldwork: Documents;                                           Chapter 7 (pp. 141-156)    Interviews; Buildings (Architectural Fieldwork).


T          3/1        ORSER & FAGAN:        Archaeological Fieldwork: Field and Laboratory. 

                        Chapter 8 (pp. 157-179)    Arch. Procedures; Excavation; Conservation;

                        READER: “Interdisciplinary Studies”         Classification.

                        (pp. 311-313)

                        READER: Kelso & Harrington. “Pollen Record Formation...”

                        (pp. 314-332)

                        READER: Szuter. “A Faunal Analysis...”

                        (pp. 333-354)

                        READER: Scott & Snow. “Arch. and Forensic Anthro....”

                        (pp. 355-367)

                        DUE TODAY: 4 article summaries


                                                                                                            TH        3/3        ORSER & FAGAN         Explaining the Historical Past: Humanistic

                        Chapter 9 (pp. 181-198)    Historical Archaeology;  Scientific Historical

                        READER:  “Landscape Studies”    Archaeology; Humanistic Science in Historical

                        (pp. 368-370)      Archaeology.

                        READER: Leone. “Interpreting Ideology...”

                        (pp.  371-391)

                        READER: Orser & Nekola. “Plantation Settlement...”

                        (pp.  392-415)

                        READER:  Hamilton. “Over-Hunting & Local Extinctions...”

                        (pp.  416-436)

                        DUE TODAY: 4 article summaries



T  3/8 and TH  3/10                    SPRING BREAK!!                NO CLASS.                    ENJOY!! 



T          3/15      ORSER & FAGAN         Archaeology  of Groups; Cultural complexity &

                        Chapter 10 (pp. 199-219)  Social Stratification;  Class, Gender, Ethnicity,

                        READER: Singleton.  “Arch. of Slave Life” Race (singly); Class, Gender, Ethnicity, &  Race

                        (pp. 141-165)      (together).

                        READER: Ferguson. “Struggling with Pots in Col. S.C.”     VIDEO: DIGGING FOR SLAVES

                        (pp. 260-271)

                        READER: Staski. “Overseas Chinese in El Paso”

                        (pp. 166-190)

                        READER: Seifert. “Mrs. Starr’s Profession”

                        (pp. 191-211)

                        DUE TODAY: 4 article summaries






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Reading Assignments (Read by class time listed)   Daily Topic from readings and/or lecture     



TH        3/17      ORSER & FAGAN:        Historical Archaeology Around the World; James

                        Chapter 11 (pp. 221-235)  Deetz on the archaeology of the 16th & 17th c.        

                        READER: “International Hist. Arch.”         encounters. 

                        (pp. 437-439)

                        READER: F-G and M-F. “Hist. Sites Arch. in Mexico”

                        (pp. 440-452)

                        READER: Hall & Markell. “Hist. Arch. in the W. Cape”

                        (pp. 453-463)

                        READER: Silberman. “Tobacco Pipes, Cotton Prices ...”

                        (pp.  464-477)

                        DUE TODAY: 4 article summaries


T          3/22      ORSER & FAGAN:        The Past in the Present: Living Archaeology;

                        Chapter 12 (pp. 237-253)  Politics and Archaeology; Plundered Past; 

                                    Future of Hist. Arch.;Education and Jobs in            

                                    Historical Archaeology.



TH       3/24      EXAM #2            over Orser and Fagan, Chapters 5-12, all Reader articles, and all lectures, and videos.        







T          4/5        FEDER:  Preface, and      Humanistic Science in Historical Archaeology.

                        Chapters 1 & 2 (pp. 1-24) Feder’s restatement of uniqueness of Hist.Arch.

                        IN CLASS: STUDENT PRESENTATIONS


TH        4/7        FEDER: Chapter 3  (pp. 25-39)     The Legend of the Lighthouse; Sources of the

                        and Chapter 4 (pp. 40-52) Lighthouse Legend.

                        IN CLASS: STUDENT PRESENTATIONS


T          4/12      FEDER: Chapter 5 (pp. 53-68)      Digging in the Documents: Sources;  Digging in

                        and Chapter 6 (pp. 69-110)            the Documents: The People of the Lighthouse.

                        IN CLASS: STUDENT PRESENTATIONS


TH        4/14      FEDER: Chapter 7 (pp. 111-130)   Digging in the Dirt: Archaeological Methods &                                IN CLASS: STUDENT PRESENTATIONS Analysis


T          4/19      FEDER: Chapter 8 (pp. 131-150)   Digging in the Dirt: Archaeology  at the                                          IN CLASS: STUDENT PRESENTATIONS Lighthouse Site.


TH        4/21      FEDER: Chapter 9 (pp. 151-198)   Material Culture at the Lighthouse Site.

                        and Chapter 10 (pp. 199-204)        Epilogue.

                        IN CLASS: STUDENT PRESENTATIONS


T          4/26               QUIZ over all of Feder and the practical documentary exercises       


There will be no comprehensive exam during final exam week.   You are done!


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REQUIRED TEXTS (available at both the College Bookstore on Calhoun St. and at University Books on King St.)

(1)        Deetz, James

                 1996   In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life.  New York: Doubleday/Anchor                                   Books (paperback).

(2)        Orser, Charles E., Jr. and Brian M. Fagan

                 1995  Historical Archaeology. New York: HarperCollins College Publishers (paperback).

(3)        Orser, Charles E., Jr., editor

                1996   Images of the Recent Past: Readings in Historical Archaeology. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press                            (paperback). 

(4)        Feder, Kenneth L.

                 1994   A Village of Outcasts: Historical Archaeology and Documentary Research at the Lighthouse Site.

                        Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Press (paperback).


VIDEOTAPES/SLIDES:   Visual aids are an important way to bring archaeological and historical perspectives into the classroom, and are designed to broaden your understanding.  The films useful in this course are considered  important, there will be study questions for them,  and there will be exam questions and quizzes which refer to them.  Although it will be possible to make up some films by viewing them in the Video lab in room 207 ECTR,  it will not be possible to make up some privately owned films which will also be shown in class.  Therefore, film days are not good days to be absent!


QUIZZES: At the discretion of the professor, and especially if students are not prepared for class discussion, there may be announced or unannounced quizzes.  Quizzes will be given at the BEGINNING of class, and  if you miss them (by being absent or late to class) they CANNOT BE MADE UP.  However, if necessary you may arrange to take a quiz a day or two early.


UNIT EXAMS:  There are 2 major exams in this course, and two large quizzes.  These may be a combination of  matching, multiple choice, and essay questions. The two maor exams will be worth 20% of your final grade, and the two large quizzes (one over Deetz and one over Feder) will be worth 10 % each for a total of 60% of the final grade.


MAKE-UP EXAMS:  There will be no make-up exams given except under extraordinary circumstances.  You will be asked to provide documentation (medical excuse, obituary of a close family member, etc.) to the Undergraduate Dean’s office, and they will notify me that you have presented your evidence to them.   ALSO, students who must miss an exam need to

notify me BEFORE  the exam is given.  If you fail to do so  I do not consider myself obligated to give you a make-up.  Call 953-5408 to leave a message on my personal answering machine. Leave the date and time of your call, your circumstances, your phone number, and the best time to reach you.  You may also e-mail me the same information.  The form of any make-up exam will be at the professor’s discretion, and the exam may be all essay.


TEAM PROJECT:  Students will work in teams of two to accomplish a manageable project typical of historical archaeology.   Specific written guidelines and topics will be provided, and students will  (1) do an oral presentation toward the end of the semester, and (2) hand in their project in written form.  This project is worth 20% of the final grade.


ARTICLE SUMMARIES:  The  24 Reader articles will be summarized and handed in.  Written guidelines will be provided , and the article summaries will constitute 20% of the final grade.


ATTENDANCE:  Attendance will be taken regularly.  If you arrive after the roll has been read or circulated for your signature, it is your responsibility to see that I record your attendance at the end of class.  Students are expected to attend class regularly.  Two unexcused absences will be allowed without penalty; more than two will most likely hurt your performance.    I  must have written communication from the Office of the Undergraduate Dean to consider excusing an absence (Please note that going to see the dean, though required,  does not automatically excuse you--only the professor can do that).   Missing class due to a  job or travel (unless for a recognized school activity with a note from your professor/coach)  is an unexcused absence.  More than three unexcused absences allows the professor to remove you from the course, in which case you will receive a grade of 'WA", which is a failing grade.   Do not simply drop out of class.  Please notify me!

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GRADING:  To recap, the two major exams will count as 40% of your grade, the two large quizzes as 20%, the article summaries as 20%, and the team project as 20%.   If you are borderline, attendance may positively or negatively affect your final grade.  If quizzes are given they will also be figured in, and the article summary and project weightings will be adjusted accordingly; the weighting of the major exams and large quizzes will remain the same.  The better the class participation the less need for quizzes!


GRADE SCALE:  I will adhere to the following grade scale.  However, in borderline cases I reserve the right to consider other aspects of your performance in this class (attendance, punctuality, attitude, effort, participation)  in order to assign the final grade.


A          90-100%  =  (Superior)                                                    

B+        85 - 89%  =  (Very good)

B          80 - 84%  =   (Good)                  

C+        75 - 79%  =   (Fair)

C          70- 74%   =   (Acceptable)

D          60- 69%  =    (Barely acceptable, but passing)

F          59% and below = (Failing)


CLASSROOM COMPORTMENT:  Some high schools from which you have graduated may have been very lax or “relaxed” about behavior in the classroom.  You may be unaware that many of these ”relaxed” habits are simply not acceptable adult behavior in a university level classroom.  A university education is a privilege, not a right.  The academic enterprise is a challenging and interesting one, and worthy of your respect while you are attending classes.  Take pride in your opportunities and accomplishments, and exhibit that pride by being mindful of the following:


***       Arriving late and walking between the professor and a group of students who are already at work is rude and                     inconsiderate.  The classroom is neither your living room nor a movie theater!  It is a place to work.


***       Bringing food and drink into class is unnecessary, creates a disturbance (and often a mess that others have to                 clean up), and  keeps you from concentrating on the job at hand (listening, note taking, participating in class                      discussion, taking quizzes and exams).    I do not wish to see food and drink brought into my classroom.

            than that of your professor.  My watch will be set to public radio!    I will do everything in my             power to end class on                   time.  Your cooperation will help assure that I am able do so.  Also, do not expect to get out early on a regular basis.


***       Visiting and whispering in private conversation while class is in session is not behavior respectful of the                            educational process or others who are  in the classroom to learn.  It also reveals that you are not paying attention.


***       Wearing caps and hats in class which hide your eyes and face is also not acceptable.  Hats are a wonderful means             of self expression!    However, students  (men and women alike) will be asked to remove such impediments                     to eye contactduring exams and quizzes.


***       Leaving class in the middle of an exam  or quiz is not permitted unless you are prepared to turn in your completed               exam before you depart.  You will not be allowed to return to the classroom and continue writing.  Plan ahead!