"First Fruits" Household Foodways at the ca. 1638 Waterman Site House, Marshfield, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts

Author(s): Ross K. Harper; Sarah P. Sportman

Year: 2017


In "New England's First Fruits" published in 1643 in London, an anonymous author addressed various questions and misconceptions prospective colonists often had related to life in the colonies. The author assured readers there was an abundance of food that was "farre more faire pleasant and wholsome than here." While early chroniclers provide clues to the hardships of the early years of Plymouth Colony, very little detail about First Period foodways is known from documentary data and archaeological evidence in eastern Massachusetts. The Waterman Site in Marshfield is associated with Robert and Elizabeth (Bourne) Waterman, who married in Plymouth in 1638 and were related to the Winslow and Bradford families. Archaeological evidence indicates that the house was a modest earthfast structure that burned down only after a few years of occupation and was never rebuilt. An integrated research approach, including study of faunal and botanical remains, ceramics, cooking implements, and food storage features, along with associated historical documentation, is providing the first detailed information on the material culture, subsistence strategies, and general lifeways of a Pilgrim family. Ongoing analyses indicate that the Watermans practiced a dynamic household economy that thoroughly integrated Old World and New World plants, dairying, fishing, and hunting.

Cite this Record

"First Fruits" Household Foodways at the ca. 1638 Waterman Site House, Marshfield, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. Ross K. Harper, Sarah P. Sportman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428842)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15429