Historical Archaeology Anthropology P330
Spring 2009
Dr. Mullins

This exercise examines household bottled good consumption patterns through a technique known as manufacture-deposition lag. When an assemblage of bottles is recovered, archaeologists are interested in what sorts of products were consumed by the household, how quickly the vessels’ contents were consumed, and whether bottles were refilled or re-used. Manufacture-deposition lag analysis is a straightforward technique used to examine the amount of time that elapsed between a bottle’s production and discard, which helps us evaluate how quickly a household consumed various types of bottled goods.

In this exercise you will calculate a manufacture-deposition lag analysis for an assemblage of glass vessels recovered from a post-1889 cellar in Annapolis, Maryland. There was absolutely no stratigraphic variation in the feature, and sherds from the lowest levels mend to those in the uppermost levels, so this feature was certainly filled in a single short-term episode.

You will complete a worksheet that calculates the manufacture-deposition lag for the assemblage and then prepare a written analysis that uses your data to address a series of questions about this household’s bottled good consumption.  The exercise is due MARCH 31.

Historical Background

This assemblage was excavated from a circa 1850s-1980 Annapolis, Maryland site that was home to two related African-American families. The home was occupied by three generations of Maynards between the 1850s and 1914, when relative Willis Burgess purchased it. Burgesses lived in the home until the 1980s, and archaeological collections span the whole range of the home's occupation. At the rear of the house, a roughly four-foot deep earthen-walled cellar was excavated to store perishables. The cellar’s contents were through an external bulkhead, likely a small frame structure and door. The cellar was filled sometime after 1889 and contained the glass bottles from this exercise.

The still-standing home was built between 1850 and 1858 by John and Maria Maynard. John was born free in neighboring Anne Arundel County in 1810, and he married the enslaved Maria Spencer in 1834, eventually buying the freedom of both her and her daughter. John waited tables at Annapolis’ tony City Hotel, where most state legislators and affluent visitors stayed while in town; Maria was owned by a hotel employee, so it is likely she and John met there. The Maynards purchased the $400 Duke of Gloucester Street lot in 1847, though they either did not build until the early 1850s or were living in another pre-existing structure that they subsequently razed. John continued to wait tables until his death; waiting tables was relatively lucrative work for African Americans, especially before Emancipation. Maria apparently did a range of household labor and was listed in the 1860 census as a laundress: the yard contained several hundred buttons that were lost during washing in the backyard, including Naval Academy uniform buttons that suggest that Maria did laundry labor for faculty or students at the Academy just a few blocks from their home. Their eldest son John Henry Maynard lived with them most of his life and was a barber at the Academy, and daughter Maria Louisa was a teacher who eventually married an Academy barber.

The Maynards' tax and property values and social associations suggest the household was materially stable--no small feat for African Americans in the pre-Emancipation or Reconstruction South--, and they were at least familiar with prominent African Americans in the city. The Maynard's antebellum neighborhood included several prominent free African Americans. An 1849 book of 344 Annapolis tax valuations provides suggestive evidence for the standing of Maynard and 19 other free African-American Annapolitans at mid-century. Maynard was assessed an amount of $525, a value higher than 103 of the White taxpayers and 10 of the 19 African Americans. It is unclear how these 19 African-American households compared to the city's 533 free Blacks, 642 enslaved Blacks, or 1,826 Whites recorded in the following year's census. However these 19 free African Americans, like the Whites recorded in the 1849 tax book, likely were among the city's most affluent residents at mid-century. John Maynard died in July, 1875, and in February, 1876 two neighbors conducted a probate inventory of the home. The home's "front room" (a Victorian code word for a home’s showpiece social space) contained a sideboard, mahogany chairs, a sofa, a carpet, six "pictures" (i.e., chromolithographs), cane chairs, side tables, curtains, and mass-produced bric-a-brac and "china": over half of the probate's value was invested in the goods in this single room.

Maria died around 1890 and the house passed to a daughter who may have cleaned out and discarded some of her mother’s belongings in the early 1890s. The cellar was filled with a wide range of household refuse, including nearly 60 ceramic vessels, several hundred food bones and oyster shells, and nearly 800 tin can fragments.

Bottled goods like these are among the most common artifacts on late-nineteenth century American sites, and they could be purchased in a wide range of general stores, obtained from almost any local bottler or pharmacist, and purchased in new consumer spaces like department stores and mail order catalogs. In Annapolis, like most of the South, African Americans could shop in any of the city’s stores provided they had sufficient money. They were not extended the basic rights extended to any White (and some European immigrant) customers--for instance, they could not try on clothing or eat in restaurants--, and they certainly could expect humiliation and dehumanizing treatment from non-Black marketers and customers. The Maynards likely purchased most of their mass-produced goods--including these bottled goods--from local White and European immigrant merchants, since there were very few African-American merchants in the city before about 1900; however, they may also have shopped for some goods in nearby Baltimore or Washington, which each had modest African-American business districts by the end of the Civil War.

What is a manufacture-deposition lag analysis?

Manufacture-deposition analysis is a technique used most commonly on assemblages after about 1850. In the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth in many places, a bottle was a valuable commodity, so bottles were used as many times as possible. It would not be uncommon for a site from 1820 or so to have bottles on it that were produced 50 years earlier; this would be very uncommon by 1900 and almost unthinkable today. By the second quarter of the nineteenth century, industrial glass production was making glass bottles increasingly cheaper, so they began to be discarded more rapidly. Hence the "lag"--i.e., the amount of time between manufacture and deposition (i.e., discard)--decreased. So a bottle manufactured in 1870 and discarded in a privy that was sealed by 1890 has a "lag" of 20 years. We assume that bottles whose contents are consumed rapidly will have a short lag interval between when they are made and when they eventually get thrown away. On the other hand, goods that are consumed slowly will have a longer span of time between when their bottles were manufactured and when they are eventually discarded.

By the second half of the nineteenth century, most bottles were discarded after their contents were consumed, a pattern that is familiar to us today: we purchase a Coke for the beverage within, not the container, and once the Coke is consumed we discard the bottle. Like some nineteenth-century consumers, you might return your empty vessel to a recycler: in the nineteenth century, this recycler was typically the firm that had bottled the product, and this bottler would wash and re-fill the vessel, thereby increasing the "lag" time. These bottles intended for re-use often had a special embossed identification, usually "THIS BOTTLE NOT TO BE SOLD." This refilling was most common for beer, soda, and mineral water bottlers, and milk bottlers practiced similar patterns well into the twentieth century.

There are some basic bottled good consumption patterns that we can assume to be the "norm." For instance, goods that are carbonated--beer, mineral water, and soda--are typically consumed most rapidly because when they lose their carbonation they are not considered drinkable. This means that the "typical" bottle glass assemblage will have the shortest lags for these "fresh" beverages. On the other hand, some products are consumed slowly, so they normally have long lag times. This is typical of wine and champagne bottles, whose contents actually get better with age and are intended to have longer shelf lives than soda or beer. Consequently, we expect wine/champagne vessels to be the the oldest vessels in most bottle assemblages.

How to complete the exercise

A manufacture-deposition lag analysis begins by placing every vessel into a functional category; i.e., what each vessel originally contained. Identification of function is done through embossed identifications on the vessel as well as shape, and all functional identifications are made here already. This immediately will give you a sense of what products are being consumed most: if there are twice as many wine bottles as any other product, this already gives us a sense of what goods the household favors. In this analysis the categories are: fresh beverage, which includes soda and mineral water; pharmaceutical (i.e., patent medicines made by local pharmacists or mass-produced); food (which typically includes sauces, cooking supplies like baking powder, and less common foods like olives); whiskey/liquor; beer, which includes lagers, porters, and other varieties; wine/champagne (these bottles are indistinguishable by form); preserving jars (i.e., Mason jars for home food preservation); and unknown vessels that can be dated but their contents not identified.

Every vessel in the assemblage is dated by identifying when the bottle or product was produced and then assigning the vessel a median date from this span. For instance, lets say a beer bottle has a production range of 1850-1880; the median date for this bottle--literally halfway in the range between 1850 and 1880--would be 1865. So this vessel’s 1865 date would be averaged with all other beer bottles from the assemblage to produce a single mean average date for the beer bottles. We expect beer bottle dates to usually be more recent than the average for wine bottles, for instance, since the beer should be consumed rapidly. Older beer bottle dates might indicate that the bottles are being recycled. Very few bottles get re-used by households because almost all are small-mouthed and cannot be used for many household purposes.

Any embossed vessel identifications literally molded into the glass body are indicated in the data table.  If the molded identification covers multiple lines or is on more than one side of the vessel this is indicated in the table.  A single slash means the text has moved to a second line but remains on one side of the vessel (e.g., COCA-COLA/ATLANTA is on two lines on the same side of a vessel); a double slash indicates the text is on more than one side (e.g. UDOLPHO WOLFE'S// SCHIEDAM// AROMATIC SCHNAPPS is one three sides of a paneled bottle).  If a vessel was not recovered complete (i.e., it was broken and some sherds were not in the archaeological sample from the cellar), incomplete text is noted with ellipses; e.g., the example ...DIFILIP... means that only those seven letters remained in the sherds found representing this bottle.

On your worksheet you should fill in the quantity of vessels of each functional type and calculate the mean date for all the vessels in this category. For example, if you have four food vessels that were produced in 1850-1880, 1860-1880, 1870-1890, and 1870-1896, the median dates are, respectively, 1865, 1870, 1880, and 1883. Now add together those four median dates; this gives you a product of 7498. If you divide 7498 by four (i.e., the number of vessels), the mean date for these four food vessels is 1874.5.

vessels

production span

median date

food vessel 1

1850-1880

1865

food vessel 2

1860-1880

1870

food vessel 3

1870-1890

1880

food vessel 4

1870-1896

1883

Product of these four median dates = 7498

7498 divided by 4 = 1874.5

On your worksheet, this would appear as:

Functional type

quantity

product

mean date

food

4

7498

1874.5

Once a mean date has been calculated for each functional category, these dates are subtracted from the assemblage’s terminus ante quem, the date by which it is known to have been sealed. In this case, we know that the cellar was sealed by 1905. We also know that one bottle at the very bottom of the cellar was not produced before 1889; this is the earliest date after which the feature could have been filled, what is known as its terminus post quem. Consequently, every bottle in the assemblage must have been discarded into the cellar sometime between 1889 and 1905, regardless of when the bottle was actually produced. The "lag" for the four food vessels that we dated above would be 1905 minus 1874.5, which equals 30.5 years. This does not mean much until we know the lags on every other category in the same assemblage, but once we know all the lags for each type of product you should be able to answer the questions below.

Written analysis

You should prepare a typed, double-spaced written analysis of the assemblage that must address the following questions. The best papers will provide very clear examples from the assemblage and using the lag dating to support their conclusions. You can answer these questions individually or as part of a single narrative.

What bottled goods did the household consume most frequently? How quickly were these goods consumed, in comparison to other classes of goods in the assemblage?

What goods did they consume most slowly?

Is there any evidence of recycling in the assemblage? If so what specific vessels or classes of goods appear to have been re-used in some way?

Did the household favor nationally produced or local goods? Do they show any loyalty to a particular brand or brands? What might explain these patterns?

Victorians were quite self-conscious about alcohol consumption and were laying the groundwork for temperance during this period. How would you characterize this household’s alcohol consumption? What sorts of alcohol did they consume? For example, did they drink large quantities of whiskey quickly?; did they drink genteel social alcohol such as wine more gradually?; did they drink their alcohol in the "disguised" form of patent medicines, which were laced with alcohol and considerably more powerful opiates?; or do you see some combination of these consumption patterns?

How much food did this household preserve? Why do you suppose they did not preserve more foods?

Victorians were strongly attracted to all sorts of medicine consumption, from mineral water to a variety of miracle cures that often contained very addictive and dangerous drugs. How would you characterize this household’s medicine consumption? Judging from the bottle assemblage, how healthy did these folks appear to be?

Maynard-Burgess Cellar Glass Minimum Vessel Count

Functional Type (Vessel Number)

Vessel Description

Production Date Range

Mean Date

fresh beverage (DG1)

CONGRESS & EMPIRE SPRING CO./ E SARATOGA, N.Y.

1865-1890

1877.5

fresh beverage (DG9)

MISSISQUOI/A/SPRINGS

1850-1920

1885

fresh beverage (DG13)

MISSISQUOI/A/SPRINGS

1850-1920

1885

fresh beverage (DG10)

HIGHROCK CONGRESS SPRING/C&W/SARATOGA NY

1850-1870

1860

fresh beverage (DG11)

CLARKE & WHITE./C/NEW YORK.

1852-1865

1858.5

fresh beverage (AQ3)

HENRY FINGER/GLASSBORO, NJ//THIS BOTTLE NOT TO BE SOLD

1875-1920

1897.5

fresh beverage (AQ25)

...DIFILIP...

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (AQ1)

HAMLIN'S/WIZARD OIL

1859-1920

1889.5

pharmaceutical (DG6)

UDOLPHO WOLFE'S//
SCHIEDAM//AROMATIC SCHNAPPS

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (DG7)

UDOLPHO WOLFE'S//
SCHIEDAM//AROMATIC SCHNAPPS

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (DG12)

UDOLPHO WOLFE'S//
SCHIEDAM//AROMATIC SCHNAPPS

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (DG16)

UDOLPHO WOLFE'S//
SCHIEDAM//AROMATIC SCHNAPPS

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (DG21)

UDOLPHO WOLFE'S//
SCHIEDAM//AROMATIC SCHNAPPS

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (DG22)

UDOLPHO WOLFE'S//
SCHIEDAM//AROMATIC SCHNAPPS

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (DG23)

UDOLPHO WOLFE'S//
SCHIEDAM//AROMATIC SCHNAPPS

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (BN1)

UDOLPHO WOLFE'S//
SCHIEDAM//AROMATIC SCHNAPPS

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (AQ6)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (AQ8)

...SBURGH PA [possibly Boerhaver's bitters]

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (AQ10)

undecorated

no date

undated

pharmaceutical (AQ20)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (AQ21)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (AQ22)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (AQ24)

DAVIS & MILLER//
BALTIMORE//DRUGGISTS

1860-1900

1880

pharmaceutical (CL1)

DR. H.A. KENNEDY'S/U.S./ PHARMACY/CAPE MAY N.J.//W.T. & CO [base]

1858-1901

1879.5

pharmaceutical (CL2)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (CL3)

W.T. & CO [base]

1858-1901

1879.5

pharmaceutical (CL5)

W.T. & CO/B [base]

1858-1901

1879.5

pharmaceutical (CL8)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

pharmaceutical (CL13)

undecorated

undated

no date

pharmaceutical (CL15)

undecorated

undated

no date

pharmaceutical (CB1)

BROMO SELTZER/
EMERSON/DRUG CO./
BALTIMORE, MD.

1889-1907

1898

pharmaceutical (AM10)

DR S. ... [Dr. S.B.H. & Co., Milwaukee]

1879-1920

1899.5

whiskey/liquor (DG8)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (DG14)

A.M. BININGER & CO.//NO. 338 BROADWAY//
LONDON DOCK//GIN

1864-1920

1892

whiskey/liquor (DG18)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (DG20)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (AM1)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (AM2)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (AM4)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (AM5)

J.A. GILKA

1876-1920

1898

whiskey/liquor (AM6)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (AM7)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (AM8)

undecorated

undated

no date

whiskey/liquor (AM9)

undecorated

undated

no date

whiskey/liquor (GN1)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (GN7)

detached paper label

1820-1920

1870

whiskey/liquor (SL2)

undecorated, solarized

1880-1920

1900

food (DG15)

undecorated

1870-1920

1895

food (AQ2)

RUMFORD

1857-1920

1888.5

food (AQ5)

RUMFORD

1857-1920

1888.5

food (AQ9)

RUMFORD

1857-1920

1888.5

food (AQ13)

RUMFORD

1857-1920

1888.5

food (AQ4)

WILLIAM/UNDERWOOD/& COMPANY/BOSTON/16 OZ

1822-1920

1871

food (AQ11)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

food (AQ12)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

food (AQ18)

F. & J. HEINZ.

1888-1920

1904

food (CL4)

DAVIS & MILLER/
BALTIMORE//EXTRACT//
FLAVORING

1860-1900

1880

food (GN2)

CB 4 [base]

1850-1920

1885

food (GN3)

CBK 1261 [base]

1850-1920

1885

food (GN4)

C&B [base]

1850-1920

1885

food (GN5)

CBM [base]

1850-1920

1885

food (AQ23)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

wine/champagne (DG2)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

wine/champagne (DG3)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

wine/champagne (DG5)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

wine/champagne (DG13)

undecorated

undated

no date

wine/champagne (GN6)

undecorated

1820-1920

1870

preserving jar (AQ15)

PAT FEB 9T 186.../LYMAN...

1864-1920

1893

preserving jar (AQ19)

undecorated

1858-1920

1889

unknown (DG17)

undecorated dip mold; possibly sauce

ca. 1820-1900

1860

unknown (AQ7)

undecorated; possibly pharmaceutical

1850-1920

1885

unknown (AQ14)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

unknown (AQ16)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

unknown (AQ17)

undecorated

1850-1920

1885

unknown (CL9)

undecorated; possibly pharmaceutical

1850-1920

1885

unknown (CL19)

gilded or silvered interior

undated

no date

unknown (GN8)

undecorated

undated

no date

unknown (GN9)

undecorated

undated

no date

unknown (DR1)

undecorated

undated

no date

 

MANUFACTURE-DEPOSITION LAG WORKSHEET

Functional type vessel quantity product mean production date lag (1905 terminus ante quem)
beer        
food        
fresh beverage        
milk        
pharmaceutical        
whisky/liquor        
preserving jar        
unknown        
complete assemblage        

Last updated October 24, 2008