Date of Defense

Spring 4-29-2011



First Advisor

Michael S. Nassaney, Anthropology

Second Advisor

Ian Kerr, Anthropology


Fort Saint Joseph, trading posts, colonialism


French colonial North America was settled in order to expand the fur trade and also secure the North American interior from British incursions. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France had come to occupy huge swathes of land in North America, establishing a trading empire from Newfoundland to the Rock Mountains, and from Hudson Bay southward along the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. As the fur trade expanded, the Great Lakes region proved vital to France's interests, and near the juncture of the main waterways connecting New France and the Louisiana territory, Fort St. Joseph became one of the most important trading posts in the region. The types of goods imported can provide insights into the economic, political and social relations within the colony. Gunflints are some of the most prevalent artifacts found at North American colonial sites and can inform us about the occupations at these archaeological sites from the origin of the manufacture to how they were being used.

At Fort St. Joseph 120 complete, or nearly complete gunflints have distinctive attributes analyzed for this study. Because French and English gunflints have distinctive attributes it is possible to source gunflints to their country of manufacture. Gunflint sizes can also be correlated with firearm type, such as muskets, fowlers and tradeguns, which are suited for different sized flints. In addition to this, analysis of wear patterns on gunflints may provide us with an idea of the relative prevalence or scarcity of gunflints at the site. Finally, the specific locations of the gunflints can also shed light on the past activities and intra-site spatial organization.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only