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A total of 56 clay tobacco pipe fragments were recovered from the C-14 site. Among these 56 fragments, eight stem to bowl junctures or complete bowls (2 of which bore makers marks), eight bowl fragments, 37 stem fragments with measurable bores and three unmeasurable stem fragments were recovered. The pipe stem fragments were distributed by bore diameter in the following manner:
9/64" 1580-1620 03
8/ 64" 1620-1650 12
7/64" 1650-1680 20
6/64" 1680-1710 02
Mean Date 1651.6
If one accepts the dates placed on the reduction in bore size throughout the seventeenth to eighteenth century as put forward by Harrington (see Appendix) then the main period of occupation of the site can be broadly stated to have occurred between 1620 and 1680 with a median date of 1650. By calculating mean dates using a modified version of the formula presented by Binford (see Appendix), a mean date of 1651.6 was reached. The presence of the majority of the stems being of the 7/64" bore diameter (1650-1680) probably indicates that the main point of occupation was closer to the 1650 and later period.
Looking at the that I have gathered for Plymouth Colony sites, it can be seen that by the percentage of each variety of bore size, the C-14 site dates among the earliest sites excavated thus far.
Six fragments coming from several small belly bowl pipes were recovered but only one complete bowl portion was found All these bowls bear a band of rouletting below the exterior rim. None of the small belly bowls retained measurable stem bores. The style of the bowls appears similar to that identified by Oswald as having been made in Bristol from 1640-1660.
Fragments from at least two medium sized belly bowl pipes were recovered. Like the small belly bowls, these too bear a rouletted line below the rim Intact stem bores were present for the two pipes, both yielding 7/64" measurements. The bowl style of these pipes are similar to that identified by Oswald as having been made in Bristol, England from 1650-1670.
Two additional 7/64" bore stem to bowl junctures were recovered, both bearing small spurs below the juncture Noel Hume identified this style as having been made in England from 1650-1680 (Noel Hume 1969: 302-303).
Makers marks were found on the bottom of the heels of one 9/ 64" stem to bowl juncture and one 8/64" stem to bowl juncture. The mark from the 9/64" fragments consists of a star and dot motif within a circular cartouche. The heel shape of the pipe and the 9/64" bore size date it approximately 1600-1640. No exact parallel for the mark has thus been identified. The circle of dots on the heel was used by Bristol pipe makers in circa 1640 (Oswald 1980: 37). The second mark is a simple EB within a round cartouche. This is likely the mark of Edward Bird originally from Surrey, England but who moved in 1624 to Holland, who produced pipes in Amsterdam from 1630-1665 (Bradley and DeAngelo 1981:111). These pipes were widely traded and have been recovered from other Plymouth Colony sites such as the RM site and Burr's Hill. .
Clay tobacco pipes are, to the archaeologist, two things; one of the most commonly occurring objects on colonial sites and easily dated by their makers marks and bowl styles. The stem bores of tobacco pipes gradually became smaller over the centuries since they were first produced in England. The stems of the pipes were slowly lengthened over time and as a result the bore of the stems became smaller with those from the 1580-1620 period are predominantly of a 9/64 bore while those of 1650-1680 are predominantly of a 7/64 bore. J.C. Harrington discovered this reduction sequence when he worked with clay pipes from Jamestown in the 1950s and it has been refined
over the years.
This dating by stem bores was initially believed to be the answer to the problem of dating sites. Of course, dating artifacts is never as easy as Harrington and Binford felt that it could be. In reality, the dates for the different pipe stem bores represent the specific periods of greatest popularity for those sizes, so there is a degree of over lap with all of these sizes. When the 7/64 were in their greatest popularity, there were still 8/64 being made, and later in their period of popularity there were 6/64 being made. For example, Hume shows a chart on which he estimates the percentages of production at different time periods for different bore diameters:
Date range 9/64 8/64 7/64 6/64 5/64 4/64
1620-1650 20% 59% 21%
1650-1680 25% 57% 18%
1680-1710 16% 72% 12%
1710-1750 15% 72% 13%
1750-1800 3% 20% 74%
These percentages all represent the popularity of the sizes at the median date of production. In the early years of the different sizes production there would have been a greater percentage of the earlier sizes bores. As one moves through the production period the earlier sizes would be phased out and the next smaller size would begin towards the middle to end of the period, moving into the next period. But one can assume that there was never any regularity to the production outputs by various producers in the different times for the different bores.
Bearing in mind the imprecision of stem bores as an absolute dating tool, what can be accomplished using these stem bores is to see when the range of activity at the site occurred. Sites with small percentages of 9/64 stems, large percentages of 8/64 stems and a small percentage of 7/64 stems can be assumed to have their maximum period of occupation between the 1620 to 1650 period.
Another method that can be used to help to date a site is the establishment of median dates. By taking the median dates for each of the pipe stem bores, multiplying this by the number of fragments of each bore, adding all of the resultant answers together and finally dividing them by the total number of measurable fragments, the median date of occupation at the site can be hypothesized. This will result in a median date based on the assumption of pipe makers strictly adhering to the changes in pipe length in a given period.
Median dates such as these do help somewhat when attempting to determine if the site dates to a specific possible owners period of occupation. For example, if one believes that the site is that of a farmer who the documents say lived at his home from 1635-1687, the median occupation date of the site based on the documents is 1661. If one looks at the pipe stems and uses the formula and the median date is 1740, then the researcher becomes suspicious of the plausibility of the site being that specific farmers house. Of course, a good archaeologist is not merely going to look only at the clay pipes to interpret or date a site, they will look at all the artifacts from the site and then be more confident in assigning a specific site to a specific occupant.
The bowl styles that would date to this period are outlined by Hume (Hume 1969:302) (Figure 1). Adrian Oswald has studied the styles from England extensively in his monumental work on the Bristol pipemakers (Oswald 1975). The pipe bowls from this period would be characterized by a diminutive size, but not as small as those from the 1580-1620 period. Their bowls tilt forward away from the smoker and they usually have rather larger heels that are the portions of the bowls on the underside. Later bowls became larger and the heels shrunk until late in the seventeenth century they sometimes have disappeared altogether. The clay pipes from a site dating from 1635-1650 would be expected to be composed of large bored stems mainly of the 8/64 variety and small sized bowls similar to those shown in Humes work. Using his work, the various bowls and many bowl fragments found at a site can be used to support or refute the chronology of the site or features based on the stem bore diameters. In it most basic sense, clay pipe bowl sizes increased throughout the seventeenth century. Along with the increased bowl size went a change in shape. The earliest bowls are small bulbous belly
bowls with relatively narrow bowl openings. Over time the bowls remained bulbous but then grew larger and the diameter of their bowl openings increased.