Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Diane Wallman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Arthur, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anna Dixon, Ph.D.


historic archaeology, Judah P. Benjamin, Manatee County, Robert Gamble, Victorian Era


This thesis uses ceramic and glass bottles recovered from a privy feature at the Gamble Plantation site to examine the manifestations of Victorian ideals and health practices of a wealthy white family living in Florida’s “pioneer” landscape. Through the analysis of these artifacts this thesis aims to understand the archaeology of status and consumption while evaluating how class can impact consumer behaviors. Artifacts for analysis were collected in the 2017 and 2018 field seasons using the systematic sampling method which led to the discovery of the privy feature at the end of the 2017 season. From the privy to the lab, each artifact was identified by looking at makers marks, bottle forms, mold type, ceramic type, and ceramic decoration. Many of the artifacts from this assemblage were recovered from either the first 5 levels or in the base layer of the feature where remnants of a wood lining and large metal pieces were found. Most of the ceramics recovered from the privy were identified as whiteware with some more expensive wares such as porcelain. The large number of less expensive wares could be due to the isolated nature of Manatee County in the mid-1800s. Based on the ceramic assemblage the mean ceramic date was calculated to be 1862 which coincides with the Patten occupation of the Gamble property. Of the glass bottles recovered, 16 were found in the privy with half having been identified as medicinal in nature. Many of these patent medicines were advertised to combat malaria, yellow fever, and ailments with the liver. While these medicines did contain components that had medicinal qualities they also used high levels of alcohol and narcotics as palliatives. These medicine bottles tell us that maintaining health was just as important to the Patten family as their public image.