Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Professor Douglas Armstrong

Honors Reader

Professor Christopher DeCorse

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Archaeological Anthropology | Other Anthropology


Smuttynose Island of the Isles of Shoals is a well preserved archaeological site that documents approximately 400 years of human activity. Four years of excavation has recovered a significant amount of material related to the intensely occupied, seasonally utilized fishing stations on Smuttynose. This project examined a concentrated sample of approximately 2,000 pieces of glass vessels related to two periods of fishing activity on Smuttynose Island (1640-1720 and 1760-1830). By determining the date and type of manufacture present in the concentration of fishing period glass and comparing the two specific time periods of the fishing industry, the project highlights how specific social and political influences affected the economic environment of the Shoals and the wider global trade networks which contributed to the importation of glass. This site’s material culture creates a picture of the 17th century fishing industry in the Gulf of Maine.

In order to interpret the glass, the archaeological technique of stratigraphy will be used to date which pieces are relevant to the project. In addition to defining periods of occupation, the analysis of all the glass from the site was done in order to create a spatial analysis of where the glass was coming from (such as taverns, fishing docks, or personal houses). The analysis is also used to determine the use of glass in order to create a better picture of daily life during these two fishing periods.

The glass that is relevant to the fishing period will be tested under ultra-violet light as a way to determine the chemical composition of the glass as it identifies light emissions and color differences that are otherwise unrecognizable. Based on how glass was manufactured, both in technique and chemical composition, will assist in defining the country the glass was manufactured in, and thus, the trading relationship with that country. This project utilizes a rand of primary and secondary sources to better define and explain the social context of material use on Smuttynose Island.

As many pieces of glass are undiagnostic fragments, it is possible that some information might be lost, but this is compensated for by a large sample of diagnostic glass. The glass fragments correspond to the intensive use of glass by the fishing community on Smuttynose Island. By looking at the manufacturing origin of glass, it will reveal information about the patterns of trade and interaction, and how they changed over time, as well as possible preferences related to the selection of the material consumed by the Isles of Shoals as a whole.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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