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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 51–83 | Cite as

Bush Hill: Material Life at a Working Plantation

  • Melanie A. Cabak
  • Mark D. Groover
Article

Abstract

Bush Hill plantation, located near Aiken, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia, along the middle Savannah River valley, was owned by four generations of the George Bush lineal family between ca. 1807 and 1920. Drawing upon the interpretive concept of the working plantation, perceptions regarding material conditions and the standard of living experienced by southern planters are explored in this essay. Economic records indicate that the George Bush family was among the top wealth-holding groups within the surrounding community. Although the planter family was affluent, the standard of living revealed archaeologically was economically conservative. The Bush family used inexpensive household items and did not acquire the luxury goods often thought to be archaeological hallmarks of genteel society, such as expensive dining sets or tea ware. Conversely, archaeological data revealed they were aggressive consumers, indicated by the sheer quantity of material discarded at the site. The example provided by Bush Hill underscores the complexity of planter households in the past and illustrates that the wealth held by former site residents is not always directly discernable in the archaeological record.

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie A. Cabak
    • 1
  • Mark D. Groover
    • 2
  1. 1.South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, Savannah River Archaeological Research ProgramUniversity of South CarolinaNew EllentonUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyBall State UniversityMuncieUSA

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