Date Awarded

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Martin D. Gallivan

Committee Member

Shanti Morell-Hart

Committee Member

Kathleen Bragdon

Committee Member

Torben C. Rick


The historical ecology of Tidewater Virginia from the Late Archaic to Early Colonial eras (ca. 1200 BC–AD 1600) indicates human-environmental dynamics that modified the landscape and simultaneously impacted the histories of Native groups in the region. I consider Algonquian Tidewater Virginia through the perspectives of historical ecology, taskscapes (a model of the landscape interweaving space, time, and human activities [Ingold 1993, 2000]), and gendered landscapes to explore the intersections of place, labor, and time. The Middle Woodland (ca. 500 BC-AD 800) is an important time period in my discussion. During this era, the region’s archaeology suggests shifts towards more sedentary life ways and a greater focus on estuarine resources (Gallivan 2011, 2016). I include comparative examples from earlier and later contexts to trace changes in social organizations, practices, and plant use. Archaeobotany is my primary line of analysis, and connections between people and plants over time is central to my discussion. I include carbonized macrobotanical remains, phytolith residues from sediment, and phytolith and starch grain residues from artifacts. I support this archaeobotanical evidence with archaeological material culture and utilize ethnographic and ethnohistoric inferences to ascribe social and cultural connections to these data. The focal site in my dissertation is the Kiskiak site (44YO2) located on the York River in Yorktown, Virginia. The site includes a significant shell midden feature that captures archaeological stratigraphy from the Late Archaic to Early Colonial eras. In order to complement and supplement the archaeobotanical remains from Kiskiak, I include archaeobotanical samples from the Gouldman Oyster Shell Midden site (44WM0304) in Westmoreland County on the Potomac River (bolstering evidence for the early part of the Middle Woodland period) and Werowocomoco (44GL32) (supporting evidence from primarily the Late Woodland to Early Colonial eras) located in Gloucester County on the opposite bank of the York River from Kiskiak. The types of plants identified from distinct chronological time periods illuminate long-term anthropogenic landscape modifications, changing subsistence strategies, and a variety of daily tasks and activities. The recorded plant species and corresponding archaeological material culture as informed by ethnographic and ethnohistoric descriptions indicate demographic pluralities and task diversities carried out by men, women, and children. The archaeobotanical remains are also useful for tracing the history of tropical cultigens and horticultural practices in the region. Through the taskscape framework and sequential botanical evidence, I discuss social landscapes and histories of Tidewater Algonquian groups.



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