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Clay Tobacco Pipestems in New Town, Jamestown Island

Colonial NHP
Dave Frederick
Clay Tobacco Pipestems in New Town, Jamestown Island

Between the National Park Service acquisition of Jamestown Island in the 1930’s, and the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown colony in 1957, widespread excavations in the New Town area resulted in the discovery of an enormous number of artifacts. The artifacts were catalogued based on a 100 square foot grid established in the 1930’s and documented most effectively in John Cotter’s 1958 archaeological base map.

Tobacco pipestems are a common artifact of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and can be categorized by the bore diameter of the stem fragment. Knowing the bore diameter and referring to J.C. Harrington’s 1954 work “Dating Stem Fragments of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Clay Tobacco Pipes”, we can also assign a date range to these pipestems. Therefore, the most prevalent diameter of pipestem in a specific grid square should correspond with the period of greatest activity in that grid square.

The artifact data was pulled from the NPS artifact inventory database, analyzed in Microsoft Access, imported into an ESRI geodatabase. Presented here are the percentages of pipestems in each 100 foot lot which belong to a specified diameter class, e.g. 4/64 inch, 5/64 inch, overlaid on a the “New Town” area at Jamestown Island. The 100 foot vector grid is based on Cotter’s 1958 base map. The “pie chart” shows pipestem sums along with the pipestem era.

The project was the joint effort of Dave Frederick, Mark Lehman and Karen Bellinger Wehner.
April 08, 2004