COGNITIVE STRUCTURES, STATUS AND CULTURAL AFFILIATION: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF ASHTON VILLA (TEXAS)
ANDERSON, TEXAS BURROUGHS
Doctor of Philosophy
This report is based on archaeological and historical research undertaken at an extant nineteenth-century residence, Ashton Villa, Galveston, Texas. The site (41GV65) is now owned by the City of Galveston and administered by the Galveston Historical Foundation as a house museum. Ashton Villa has undergone many modifications since it was first built in 1859. Most recently, the Galveston Historical Foundation has restored the interior of the main house to approximate its appearance at the turn-of-the-century. In addition, they have landscaped the yard and made modifications to provide social and administrative areas for the maintenance of museum activities. The research reported here takes the position that patterning in the archaeological record is to a great extent generated by and within symbolic structures. Working within this theoretical construct, we have shown that consideration of the cultural context informs on the generative principles which underly the social dynamics and produce the archaeological record. We first present an explanation of the original patterning of the built-environment which emphasizes its symbolic referents. Then we proceed to show that changes in the geometry of that facet of the archaeological record are a reflection of the devaluation of the symbolic referent, of its social and economic utility, and the transformation of the symbol into one with renewed vigor, utility and meaning. Secondly, we present evidence, textual as well as archaeological, focusing attention on the impact of status on the form and content of, not only portable artifacts, but on stratigraphy as well. The consideration of the latter is of particular importance to archaeologists concerned with understanding and explaining the complex stratigraphy associated with urban contexts. In addition, we find evidence that cultural affiliations have played a significant role in determining aspects of the material culture.