Culminating Project Title
Searching for Archaic Semi-Subterranean Habitation At the Halls Swamp Site in Southern New England
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Cultural Resources Management Archaeology: M.S.
College of Liberal Arts
Dianna L. Doucette
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
Archaic, pithouses, New England
Semi-subterranean habitation structures, also referred to as pithouses have been interpreted on archaeological sites across North America and over a long span of time, up to 9,000 radiocarbon years before present (RCYBP) and are still used today. Although pithouses or earth lodges may vary in their size, shape, and construction, they share the following attributes: a floor, hearth, depression, and post molds. Experimental archaeology based on ethnographic studies used to reconstruct pithouses has helped define the archaeological signatures of pre-contact pithouses. The high investment of time and labor needed for the construction of large features, such as pithouses, storage pits, and ossuaries has been documented for pre-contact period peoples. Understanding how these large features fit into the Archaic period (10,000 to 3,000 RCYBP) has been challenging for archaeologists in the Northeast, and more specifically in southern New England where soil strata and depositional events are often blurred or erased by bioturbation. By evaluating and comparing archaeological features from known pithouses in southern New England, this thesis aimed to develop a model and test the suspected pithouse features at the Halls Swamp site in Kingston, Massachusetts.
The model was used to evaluate a concentration of features identified at the Halls Swamp site which confirmed a Late Archaic period pithouse at this multi-component site. The presence of this feature type suggests fall and winter occupations along wetlands often taking advantage of slopes in sandy soils. Additional spatial, depositional, and grain size analysis along with a newly acquired radiocarbon date, was used in conjunction with previously reported data to test the model and overall connect this concentration of features to one single event.
Flynn, Erin, "Searching for Archaic Semi-Subterranean Habitation At the Halls Swamp Site in Southern New England" (2020). Culminating Projects in Cultural Resource Management. 37.
I would first like to thank my thesis advisor Dr. Mark Muniz, Graduate Director of the Cultural Resources Management M.S. for the Department of Anthropology at St. Cloud State University. Prof. Muniz was always available to answer questions. He consistently directed me in a positive way to find my own voice while finding focus in my research. I would like to acknowledge Dr. Robbie Mann of the Department of Anthropology at St. Cloud State University as the second reader of this thesis, and I am gratefully indebted for his very valuable comments and great questions for this research.
A huge thanks to my New England expert who was involved in the validation for this research project and personal inspiration. Dr. Dianna L. Doucette, senior archaeologist at the Public Archaeology Laboratory (PAL), was a constant source of support while pushing me to be better archaeologist throughout my career all while serving as principle investigator for excavations at the Halls Swamp site. A late-night talk in western Massachusetts forever changed my aspirations. Without her passionate participation and input, this research could not have been successfully conducted.
Deborah Cox of PAL and the Kingston Historical Commission were critical for the opportunity to excavate at the Halls Swamp site. Ms. Cox consistently encouraged my graduate work (especially its completion) and provided support and access to any resources at the lab. The staff at PAL provided help whenever asked with excellent advice, critical analysis, and friendship. Craig Dalton, chairperson, and Marilyn Kozodoy of the Kingston Historical Commission and Elaine Fiore, Kingston Board of Selectman, were crucial to finding funding for the archaeological survey and eventually protecting the site.
I would also like to thank Bettina Washington, tribal historic preservation officer (THPO) from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and Ramona Peters THPO and David Weeden, deputy THPO from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and there cultural resource monitors who continuously visited the site and provided Native perspective during excavations.
About twenty years ago, I was lucky to start this journey under Dr. Curtis Hoffman at Bridgewater State College and got to discover so many enthusiastic amateur archaeologists at the Massachusetts Archaeological Society who continued to help me with this research so many years later.
Finally, I must express my very profound gratitude to my friends and family for providing me with unfailing support and continuous encouragement throughout my years of study and through the process of researching and writing this thesis. Kristen Jeremiah pushed me to enter this program and supported me throughout. My daughter Shelby, who was convinced I loved to only do schoolwork, was a major motivation for this work. Overall, I cannot imagine finishing this work without any of them. Thank you.