A Geo-Historical Study of Site Formation at a Nineteenth-Century Farmstead in Lake County, Illinois
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- Wright, D.K., McGowan, K.P., Flynn, C. et al. Int J Histor Archaeol (2014) 18: 726. doi:10.1007/s10761-014-0277-y
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Agricultural journals were in wide circulation in the nineteenth century, and they were means of transmitting information about agrarian technologies and techniques to American Frontier-Phase farmers. This article explores the environmental and cultural context for the addition of a drainage feature to a nineteenth-century farmstead in Illinois (called the Bond Farm site), which preceded the site’s eventual abandonment when rainfall reached anomalously high levels. Geoarchaeological and paleoclimatologic datasets are presented as evidence of high rainfall, and the period of site settlement is constrained by both artifact and documentary sources. High maintenance costs associated with occupying the structure apparently exceeded the value of remaining, so the site was abandoned. As archaeologists grapple with how to determine causation in site occupation and abandonment, we advocate a multidisciplinary research design in historical archaeology that includes geoarchaeological analyses, which can be useful in building a microscale settlement reconstruction.