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Northeast Historical Archaeology

Article Title

An Evaluation of Tobacco Pipe Stem Dating Formulas

Abstract

There are currently three formula dating techniques available to archaeologists studying 17th- and 18th-century colonial sites with imported white, ball-clay, tobacco-pipe stems. The formulas are based on Harrington’s 1954 histogram of time periods: Binford’s linear formula, Hanson’s ten linear formulas, and the Heighton and Deagan curvilinear formula. Data on pipe stem-bore diameters were collected from 28 sites in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to test the accuracy and utility of the three formula dating methods. The results of this project indicate that current conventional use of Binford’s formula, to the exclusion of the other methods, may be problematic, and that the Heighton and Deagan formula is the most accurate of the three options.

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