Access to First Choice Foods and Settlement Failure at French Azilum

Author(s): Maureen Costura

Year: 2014


Azilum in northern Pennsylvania was a thriving community of French aristocrats and enslaved Africans that existed from 1793-1809. Despite many advantages, including wealth and cultural capital, the settlement eventually vanished. This paper will argue that a major detrimental factor to the success of Azilum was the lack of access to first choice foods. Modern global food systems are designed in part to assure cultural elites constant access to first choice foods. In the case of Azilum, elite documentary sources reveal a perceived lack of food consistent with starvation, while excavation reveals substantial deposits of lower status food remains. Dissatisfaction with the quality of life that Azilum offered contributed substantially to its decline. The lack of access to first choice foods has modern day implications for those faced with changing climates and growing patterns, and Azilum offers one example of the ways in which past settlements coped with such changes.

Cite this Record

Access to First Choice Foods and Settlement Failure at French Azilum. Maureen Costura. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437161)

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-61,10