The Archaeology of 18th-Century Virginia.

Theodore R. Reinhart, editor. Special Publication No.35 of the Archeological Society of Virginia. Printed for the Council of Virginia Archaeologists by Spectrum Press, Richmond, 1996. 366 pp., 46 figs., 4 tables, references. $28.00 ($18.00 for ASV members) (paper).

Reviewed by Mary C. Beaudry
Boston University

This is the sixth volume arising from a series of symposia held by the Council of Virginia Archaeologists (COVA) and the second to address sites of the historical period (the fifth symposium, The Archaeology of 17th-Century Virginia, was published as Archeological Society of Virginia Special Publication No.30 in 1993). The present volume contains 11 synthetic essays by a diverse group of senior and younger scholars and three commentaries (by Leone, Renaud, and McClesky). Topics addressed vary in scope, ranging from broad overviews of 18th-century terrestrial (Barka) and underwater (Broadwater) excavations to discussions of major themes in the historical archaeology of 18th-century Virginia: plantation lifeways (Hudgins); plantation economics (Parker, Lewis, Dermody, and Miller); urban sites (Samford); military sites (Sprinkle); and westward settlement (Hofstra and Geier). At a more specialized level are discussions of issues that have been foregrounded in the innovative work of contemporary archaeologists of early Virginia: African-American presence and contributions (Sanford); creolization and the local production of a class of coarse, handbuilt earthenwares known as Colonoware (Heath); and early Virginia foodways (Bowen). Dennis Pogue closes the volume with a thoughtful discussion of insights gleaned from recent work and prospects for the future.

Those who have read the earlier volume on archaeology of 17th-century sites in Virginia will find that the contributors to this collection of articles adhere far more closely to the stated aims of the COVA symposia than did those who contributed to the earlier group of papers (though certain authors appear in both). All of the major essays in The Archaeology of 18th-Century Virginia are synthetic in nature, providing broad yet in-depth overviews of the topic under consideration. As a result, the present volume is invaluable both as a summary of work to date and as an assessment of the current "state of the art" for archaeological studies of 18th-century Virginia. In his overview of terrestrial archaeology, for instance, Norman Barka provides a far more comprehensive review of Virginia projects than other recent summaries of historical archaeology in the Chesapeake have been able to offer. John Broadwater's survey of the maritime archaeology of 18th-century Virginia is a superb and truly important contribution to the literature not just of Virginia historical archaeology but to the field as a whole. Bowen's treatment of Virginia foodways constitutes a major statement on the topic; she exploits the powerful interpretive potential of the growing database of faunal material from both 17th- and 18th-century sites to trace changes in diet and to explode long-cherished myths about Virginia foodways. These few examples should be enough to whet the appetite of most historical archaeologists and move them to add this important and useful volume to their libraries. The essays are valuable in and of themselves, and their reference lists serve as comprehensive bibliographies of both published and "gray" literature. I note with some dismay, however, that Sprinkle's review of military sites neglects to cite sources from which details he provides about my work at Fort Christanna were drawn; one hopes this is a singular omission. (I provide below a list of sources for the bibliophiles among the JMAA readership). While several of the authors lament the relatively low volume of publication versus excavation, it is clear that the present volume takes an enormous step toward filling the too-familiar void between fieldwork and the printed page.

Sources on Fort Christanna archaeology:
Beaudry, Mary C.
1985 Colonizing the Virginia Frontier: Fort Christanna and Governor Spotswood's Indian Policy. In Comparative Studies in the Archaeology of Colonialism, edited by Stephen Dyson, pp. 130-152. British Archaeological Reports International Series 233. Oxford.
1983 Fort Christanna: Frontier Trading Post of the Virginia Indian Company. In Forgotten Places and Things: Archaeological Perspectives on American History, edited by Albert E. Ward, pp. 133-140. Contributions to Anthropological Studies 3. Center for Anthropological Studies, Albuquerque, NM.
1982 Fort Christanna and the Frontier and Fur Trade Artifact Patterns: A Test. The Conference on Historic Site Archaeology Papers 1979 14:46-58.
1979 Excavations at Fort Christanna, Brunswick County, Virginia: The 1979 Season. Brunswick County Historical Society and Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary.
Jones, Donald G.
1983 Indian, African, and European Influences in Colono Ware: Two Examples from Virginia. Ms. on file, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond.
Landon, David B.
1992 Taphonomic Evidence for Site Formation Processes at Fort Christanna. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 2:351-359.

Reprinted by permission from the Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology, 1997 (13): 177-178.