Research and Projects

Cultural and Historic Preservation

Aquidneck Island Revolutionary War Battlefield Mapping

Our program partnered with the Middletown (R.I.) Historical Society on a project aimed at locating and preserving the sites of Colonial and British fortifications involved in the siege of Newport, fought in August 1778. In this battle, the French navy and a Colonial army attacked British defensive positions using cannon fire and trench warfare. This was one of the largest military operations of the American Revolution and the first attempt at a combined French-Colonial military operation. Although unsuccessful, it contributed to the British decision to withdraw from Newport in 1779 and opened the way for Gen. Rochambeau's arrival in 1780.

As part of a $67,000 grant awarded by the National Park Service, our students were actively engaged in all aspects of the project, including historical research in archives, computerized mapping (where sophisticated software is used to overlay digital scans of historic maps onto modern aerial photos), and a ground-penetrating radar survey to make a map of what lies beneath the ground.

Yamasee War Battlefield Survey

The Sadkeche Fight occurred in April 1715, just days after the Yamasee War began in South Carolina. It was a pivotal engagement within the war, marking the first major battle between the Yamasee Indians and the South Carolina militia. In this battle the militia, numbering 240, defeated a force of Yamasees roughly twice its size. The primary goal of this project is to identify testable locations for the Sadkeche Fight and associated sites.

Utilizing a $39,000 grant awarded by the National Park Service, our students and faculty collected information from primary sources, recorded archaeological site documents, curated artifact assemblages and stakeholder oral histories. Using geographic information systems software, they combined this data with a military terrain analysis to produce a map of locations for the battlefield. The results were incorporated into a research design for future archaeological testing aimed at confirming and delineating the battlefield location. This ensuing stage also included the development of a preservation plan for the battlefield and initiatives to increase community engagement in preservation.

Common Burying Ground

Our program partnered with the city of Newport for an ongoing conservation project in the Common Burying Ground, the city's public cemetery since the middle of the 17th century. Our students research historic burial practices, conduct surveys of the site and learn the correct ways to conserve historic slate, marble, brownstone and granite monuments.

Students have also participated in cleanup and headstone resetting projects in Newport's historic cemeteries and other locations outside of Aquidneck Island.

Archaeology of Carolina's Early Colonial Economy

The founding of Charles Town in 1670 and the establishment of the Carolina colony forever altered the history of North America. Fueled by demand for trade goods, furs and human slaves, this economic engine created a new landscape connecting Native Americans with Europeans and Africans living throughout the Atlantic world. While this global system has shaped the histories of millions of people, the establishment of the Carolina colony (ca. 1670-1715) remains an understudied subject.

Our project addressed this gap by conducting archaeological investigations at a number of the earliest colonial sites in South Carolina, including the original 1670 settlement at the Charles Towne Landing site and at St. Giles Kussoe, one of the earliest plantations in the Carolina colony (ca. 1674-1685). These sites offer the unique opportunity to improve our understanding of the emerging social and economic relationships that came to define the colonial experience for Europeans, Native Americans and Africans living in North America. 

Student Research Projects

Our students pursue significant undergraduate research through the completion of their senior theses. Recent topics have included:

"Conversion, Adaptive Reuse and Preservation of the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California"

"The Archaeology of the Lord Ashley Site [Charleston, South Carolina]: An Exploration of Seventeenth-Century Colonial Identities Based Upon Material Culture"

"The Architectural Collaboration Between Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue"

"The Rise and Decline of the Romanesque Revival in the U.S."

"The Architectural and Social History of St. Anne's Church and Shrine in Fall River, Massachusetts"