A Historical Archaeology of Delaware

People, Contexts, and the Cultures of Agriculture

  • Author(s): De Cunzo, Lu Ann
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2004-04-30
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $48.00 | Buy Now

A must for both academic historical archaeologists and contract archaeologists in the field, this book constitutes a comprehensive look at the historical archaeology of Delaware from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. The approach to archaeological management developed in Delaware over two decades and embodied in this book has broad applicability. Many of the nation’s historical archaeological sites are agricultural, and they present cultural resource managers with considerable challenges. Delaware’s historical archaeology program has begun to explore the “cultures of agriculture” so central to the course of American history.

Historic agricultural sites contain stories waiting to be told about the people who lived on and farmed them and about the transformation of rural societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a process played out across the eastern United States. In a startling new way, Lu Ann De Cunzo takes a holistic approach to the subject, integrating a scholarly research agenda with the program of cultural resource management. Gathering ethnographies of Delaware merchant-farmers, elite planters, middling farmers, tenants, and agricultural laborers of European and African descent, she examines the minute details of landscape, architecture, food, and material goods. These ethnographies increase our understanding of the structure and poetics of “improvement” negotiated by Delaware’s farming people.

By analyzing what she describes as richly detailed archaeological site biographies, De Cunzo reconstructs how Delaware’s farming people actively created their identities and shaped their interactions at home, at work, at church, and in the marketplace as they began to confront industrial capitalism. Informed by a contextual, interpretive perspective, this valuable work reveals the complex interrelationships among environment, technology, economy, social order, and cultural praxis that defined the “cultures of agriculture” in Delaware during the last three centuries.

Lu Ann De Cunzo is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware. She is the co-editor of Historical Archaeology and the Study of American Culture, author of the monograph Reform, Respite, Ritual: An Archaeology of Institutions, and has published articles in Historical Archaeology, Northeast Historical Archaeology, Landscape Journal, and International Journal of Historical Archaeology.