Dates allow archeologists to connect a site/deposit to a specific time period, allowing us a better understanding of the past.Historical archeologists have an advantage when it comes to dating because of the written historical record.Sadly, the majority of artifacts are not stamped with their date of manufacture.Instead, archeologists have to be a bit more creative.Although an object may have a known manufacturing date, this does not mean that the object was used when it was made. A hand-me-down set of dishes you inherited when you went to college?A known manufacturing date tells us that the site cannot be older than the object, but that doesn’t mean that the site is not a lot younger. The presence of these things can throw off the mean ceramic date. In an ideal world, every deposit would contain a dated penny.One of the easiest ways to determine the diameter of a pipe stem is to use drill bits.Access to this knowledge led to something called the Mean Ceramic Date.
When we study a site, we also study the documents associated with the site.
For Historical archeologists, ceramics are a diagnostic tool for dating because many English ceramic types can be dated to within 5 or so years of their manufacture.
Pipes were very common in colonial times following the introduction of tobacco to England in the late 16th century.
When archeologists first started using pipe fragments to date sites, they relied on the bowl of the pipe (where the tobacco goes).
The size and shape of the bowl changed over time, making it a useful tool for dating. Harrington, who worked at Jamestown, looked at bowls that still had part or all of the pipe stem attached.Except bowls are not found as often as pipe stems, which occur in abundance on sites. By analyzing the data, Harrington determined that the diameter of the pipe stem became smaller over time, unlocking a great tool for dating. Check out this chart to see the date ranges for each pipe stem diameter: To make use of the above chart, you first have to identify the diameter of the pipe stem in question.