Historical Archaeology


Historical Archaeology @Penn

Historical archaeology is the study of the recent past through material remains of societies that also have some form of written evidence. Studies in Historical archaeology are inherently interdisciplinary, and utilize anthropological, historical, geographical, and folkloric methods of study to understand the lives of individuals in the past. On campus, the primary research lab for historical archaeological research is located within the Department of Anthropology. The lab is the active center for analyzing materials recovered by the South Jersey Project (19th and 20th century Southern New Jersey, especially Vineland, NJ) and also serves as the base for a number of student projects. PhD students working on historical archaeology dissertations and some undergraduate research by anthropology majors concentrating in this specialization take place in the lab.  

Our Work

South Jersey Project

Vinland, New Jersey
Project Director: Robert L. Schuyler

Since 2001 the primary project of the Historical Archaeology Section (Courses: Anthropology 219, 220, and Summer 247) has been the study of a Victorian Period (1861-1900) and 20th century planned, agricultural community on the edge of the Pine Barrens in Southern New Jersey. Vineland was created in 1861 as an agricultural region with an urban core by one man, Charles K. Landis (1833-1900) but is now the largest areal city in the state. Excavations in historic back yards within the town, archival research, oral history and a study of the present settlement are being combined into an historic ethnography which is studying the origins of the community, its successful establishment in the 19th century and the radical changes it underwent across the 20th century. Two sites have now been completed: Site 1, an original home lot (1870s to 1990s) which for a half century (1892 - 1941) was occupied by one middle class household, the Morris family,  and Site 2, a multi-component home lot (a small house 1860s to 1880 and a large Victorian rental property 1880 ñ 1980). Laboratory analysis of the recovered archaeological assemblages from both sites and documentary research are continuing while the field work will now (2012 on) focus on the ìabove ground archaeologyî of Vineland and other historic sites in South Jersey.


  • Penn Museum (Historical Archaeology Section)
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Penn School of Arts and Sciences
  • Vinland Historical and Antiquarian SOciety, Vineland, NJ

Primary Supervising Faculty from Anthropology: 

Dr. Robert L. Schuyler: schuyler@sas.upenn.edu