chapter  9
The Abundance Index
Measuring variation in consumer behavior in the early modern Atlantic World
ByJillian E. Galle
Pages 30

The reasons for historical archaeology's current low-level of engagement with actual artifact data when dealing with questions of consumption are complex and interwoven. Explaining variation in the archaeological record is a difficult task that requires attention to a host of variables, including occupation span and intensity, the social and economic contexts faced by the site's occupants, their cultural backgrounds, as well as excavation methods, and post-depositional processes. This chapter offers a novel method to measure artifact class abundance that helps overcome some of these difficulties. It uses that method to explore patterns of change and synchronic variation in the acquisition, use, and discard of refined ceramics that flooded Atlantic societies in the 18th century. The chapter presents an overview of the consumer revolution, its participants, and how their demand for novel goods shaped ceramic production.