Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Charles Cobb

Second Advisor

Steven D. Smith


The 18th century colonial world is characterized by a dramatic increase in the consumption of goods identified as the “consumer revolution.” During this period fashionable material culture and the social performances associated with their use became universally recognized symbols of group membership. This thesis uses archaeological evidence to explore variation in the degree of participation in the consumer revolution between urban and rural settings in late eighteenth-century South Carolina. The data used for this research will be taken from excavated ceramic assemblages of two domestic archaeological sites, both of which were homes owned consecutively by the wealthy Brewton and Motte family from approximately 1769 to 1791. One, the Miles Brewton House, was located in the urban center of Charleston and the other, Mount Joseph Plantation, was constructed along the Congaree River in Amelia Township, an area that was then considered South Carolina’s backcountry. The consumption patterns of the Brewton and Motte family will be explored through a statistical comparison of the excavated ceramic assemblages of both of these residences. Interpreting the differences in these assemblages through the lens of conspicuous consumption and signaling theory provides insight into the social climate of the late eighteenth century colonial frontier, increases knowledge of the differences between urban and rural participation in the consumer revolution, and explores the range of variation in colonial experiences in Revolutionary period South Carolina.

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