Sea Level Change as a Variable in Colonial American Archaeology

  • Reynold J. Ruppé
Part of the The Springer Series in Underwater Archaeology book series (SSUA)


The genesis of this paper was a series of observations I made at a few Colonial archaeological sites I visited along the eastern coast of the United States. In several cases there was evidence that sea level had risen since the sites were founded. Those sites dated from the early 17th century to the time of the American Revolution and in every case are 30 cm or more below high tide at present. I believe that we will find other early Colonial sites as well as sites of the preceding Exploration period underwater in locally favorable situations. Those favorable locations are estuaries, lagoons, and the tidal portions of rivers. Other sites are reported to occur on the oceanfront but they probably will be difficult to deal with because of alteration of the beaches by storms, sedimentation, and erosion by longshore currents.


Longshore Current Land Level Maritime Archaeology Eustatic Change Colonial Site 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brooks, H.K., 1973, Geological Oceanography. In, A Summary of Knowledge of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, II E 1-II E 27, University System of Florida, Institute of Oceanography.Google Scholar
  2. Fairbanks, C.H., 1964, Underwater Historic Sites on St. Marks River. Florida Anthropologist, 17(2):44–49.Google Scholar
  3. Flemming, N.C., 1971, Cities in the Sea: An Explanation of Ancient Cities Beneath the Mediterranean. Doubleday: New York.Google Scholar
  4. Guilcher, A., 1969, Pleistocene and Holocene Sea Level Changes. Earth Science Reviews, 5(2):69–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Kuhn, T.S., 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press: Phoenix Books, Chicago.Google Scholar
  6. Morner, N.-A., 1973, Eustatic Changes During the Last 300 Years. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 13:1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ruppé, R.J., 1979, The Archaeology of Drowned Terrestrial Sites: A Preliminary Report. Bulletin No. 6: Bureau of Historic Sites and Properties, Department of State, Tallahassee, Florida (in press).Google Scholar
  8. Shepard, F. and Curray, J.R., 1967, Carbon 14 Determination of Sea Level Changes in Stable Areas. Progress in Oceanography 4:283–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Shomette, D.G., 1978, Londontown: The Reconnaissance of a 17th-18th Century Tidewater Riverport Complex. Beneath the Waters of Time: The Proceedings of the Ninth Conference on Underwater Archaeology. Texas Antiquities Committee Publication No. 6, pp. 167-174. Austin.Google Scholar
  10. South, S., 1974, Palmetto Parapets, Anthropological Studies. In Occasional Papers of the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. The University of South Carolina, Columbia.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reynold J. Ruppé

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations