Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Charles H. Faulkner

Committee Members

John B. Rehder, Gerald F. Schroedl


The study of historic farmsteads in the Upland South has generally taken a normative approach that compared archaeologically recorded farmsteads to an idealized Upland South farmstead. This approach tends to avoid the issue of variation that is inherent among farmsteads within the region. To address this variation, a Darwinian evolutionary theoretical perspective is proposed. Of the different evolutionary perspectives in archaeology today, including selectionism, evolutionary psychology, and evolutionary ecology, it is proposed that an evolutionary ecological theoretical perspective is the best for examining and explaining the variation among Upland South farmsteads.

In employing an evolutionary ecology theoretical perspective, a resource maximization/time minimization model was developed that characterized a set of four strategies available to the farm families that occupied the farmsteads in the Upland South. To test this model, data concerning the types of features and structures present at 129 Upland South farmsteads were collected. It was hoped that a wide range of variation would be present among these farmsteads, which would facilitate the classification of each farmstead into the different strategies of the model. In order to test this, a principal components analysis and cluster analysis were undertaken.

The principal components analysis was used to examine the range of variation within the farmsteads in the sample. It was determined that the range of variation within the farmsteads was small, which made it to derive groups via the cluster analysis. Using the SAS procedure FAST CLUS, a second cluster analysis was undertaken that assigned the farmsteads into eight clusters, which is the number of strategies in the model. The clusters derived from this procedure did not represent the ultimate classification of each farmstead into the individual strategies. These clusters did, however, assist in the classification of the individual farmsteads into the individual strategies.

An assumption raised during the classification process was a continuity of the strategy undertaken by the occupants of an individual farmstead. To demonstrate this continuity, an in-depth examination of the Tipton/Dixon House site was conducted. This examination showed that the occupants of this farm had undertaken a resource maximization strategy from its initial occupation in 1819 until it was abandoned in 1969.

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