Date Awarded

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Danielle Moretti-Langholtz

Committee Member

Marley Brown, III

Committee Member

Kelly Dixon


Current research on frontiers describe these spaces as zones of meeting, interaction, dynamism, and change. Further, the geographic, ecological, economic, and political processes that are inherent within these locales shape them, rendering them far from static. These current scholars of frontier theory have sought to fight the image of frontier spaces as locations needing civilization, which is how they used to be approached. They have also stressed the presence of frontier locales outside of the United States, which was the focus of Frederick Jackson Turner's seminal work. Leonard Thompson and Howard Lamar, two prominent figures in the New West approach to frontier theory, argue that the only effective way to study frontiers is to do so through the use of comparative studies. While comparative studies are common in cultural anthropological research on frontiers in North America, the extant archaeology done has not taken a comparative approach nearly as often. My study takes steps toward reintroducing a comparative approach to frontier archaeology. examine the way that the actions of frontier inhabitants (including negotiation, conflict, and cohesion) combined with geographic and ecological factors within two specific locations: Smuttynose Island, Maine, and Highland City, Montana. to make the comparison across space and time between these two locations, I analyze them through the framework of informal economy, trade and exchange networks and the negotiation of social capital through commensal politics. I argue that the inhabitants of frontier settlements interact with the processes at work within frontier zones in such similar ways that it materializes in the archaeological record. I explore tavern assemblages left behind by these frontier inhabitants, with a specific focus on ceramics and glass. Through an examination of the drinking spaces within both settlements, I shed light on the microeconomics of these two locales and of frontier spaces more broadly.




© The Author