Date Awarded

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Martin Gallivan

Committee Member

Audrey Horning

Committee Member

Neil Norman

Committee Member

Bruce Larson


Coastal archaeological sites are threatened by a host of environmental change processes, including sea level rise, land subsidence, and shoreline erosion. The rates at which these processes have been occurring are increasing, exacerbated by climate change, and are expected to increase even more rapidly in the future. This will cause further loss of archaeological sites and with them, the loss of our knowledge of how coastal inhabitants lived and interacted with their landscape. My research assesses the vulnerability of prehistoric and Contact period Native American sites situated around Indian Field Creek in Virginia. This area saw multiple prehistoric occupations, culminating in the protohistoric village of Kiskiak, which was part of the Powhatan chiefdom at the time of European contact. Recent archaeological excavations and the careful study of shell middens found in this area have added to our knowledge of how the Kiskiak people dwelled within this landscape and interacted with their environment. However, field observations have revealed that these midden deposits are actively being eroded. My research takes into consideration a variety of environmental and cultural variables to determine which sites in this area are most at risk from the natural environment and which would be the greatest loss to our understanding of the past if they were washed away from the archaeological record. The results of this research presented here provide guidance for environmental and cultural managers to best preserve the archaeological record and our knowledge of the native people of this region.



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