Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Barbara J. Heath

Committee Members

David G. Anderson, Kandace D. Hollenbach, Kimberly Pyszka


Archaeologists and historians have argued that regional analyses of the colonial-era Chesapeake obscure intra-regional variation, and the use of river valleys as analytical units provides a better scale for identifying and understanding distinctive trajectories of economic, social, and political development. This study will address the argument for intra-regional analyses within the South Carolina Lowcountry, a region characterized by a series of river systems dominated by plantations organized around rice production. The primary focus is to determine if plantations developed differently along river systems because of micro-environmental influences in rice production and unique social, economic, and political alliances which formed between people living within each river system. Archaeological, remote sensing, and archival data are analyzed to facilitate rice culture landscape comparisons between three rice plantations on the Ashley River and three rice plantations on the Santee River. Variability within each river system is assessed by comparing the built plantation environment, material culture associated with these features, rice field infrastructure, method of rice production, and development after the collapse of the rice industry. The goal of this study is to demonstrate that an intra-regional approach to examining variation in the South Carolina Lowcountry will lead to new ideas about the historical development of the region.

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