Pollen Analysis as a Proxy for Land Use Practices in Massachusetts, 1500-1700 CE

Author(s): Anya Gruber

Year: 2020


This is an abstract from the session entitled "New Research on the “Old Colony”: Recent Approaches to Plymouth Archaeology" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Questions of land—who owns it, who controls it, who alters it—are central to human relationships, particularly in colonial contexts where power dynamics are embedded within the physical landscape. In Massachusetts, land was central to cooperation and conflict between the Wampanoag and English. Land privatization, disruption of common lands, and exploitation of economic species characterized daily life in the seventeenth century. Here, paleoethnobotanical data from two colonial-era sites in Massachusetts, Plymouth and Eastham, elucidate the long-term development and impact of land management strategies. Detection of fluctuating populations of a suite of species in the pollen record reveals the spatial extent of shifts in local ecology, indicating alterations to the landscape such as the creation of meadows, agricultural fields, and drained marshes. These serve as proxies for practices associated with historic political-ecological regimes, and how Wampanoag and English conceptions of land ethics lay at the nexus of environmental practices and social inequalities.

Cite this Record

Pollen Analysis as a Proxy for Land Use Practices in Massachusetts, 1500-1700 CE. Anya Gruber. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457153)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 369