On Living and Dying in the Colonial Chesapeake


A group of scholars interested in the daily lives and social and cultural relationships of the inhabitants of the Colonial Chesapeake developed the project A Comparative Archaeological Study of Colonial Chesapeake Culture, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Beginning in the fall of 2003 we began collecting information from 18 rural 17th to 18th century archaeological sites in Maryland and Virginia into digital form. Through analysis of material culture, particularly its spatial organization, and the architectural layout of the sites, we are studying patterns to discern the ways in which the people living at and visiting these sites created social boundaries and forged new identities in a radically new natural and cultural environment. These social boundaries grew out of existing cultural practices now shaped by this new environment in an attempt to define the appropriate behavior of and between planters and laborers, men and women, and individuals of different social, economic, and ethnic groups.

Human burials were associated with eight of the 18 sites included in this project, and remains were recovered from six. Analysis of human remains can help us ‘bring to life’ the individuals of the past as perhaps no other archaeological material can. The skeletal and dental information is incredibly powerful because through it we can gain a real sense of the demography, health and diet, of a population and the resulting social implications. In this presentation I will discuss and compare the human remains and mortuary patterns uncovered at these sites in hope that we might have a better understanding of the individuals’ lives and their colonial experiences.

Cite this Record

On Living and Dying in the Colonial Chesapeake. Catherine Alston. 2005 ( tDAR id: 6097) ; doi:10.6067/XCV89S1PM6

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1600 to 1700

Spatial Coverage

min long: -77.498; min lat: 36.633 ; max long: -75.41; max lat: 39.368 ;

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
s07-alston3.pdf 880.26kb May 7, 2011 12:00:22 PM Public