ABSTRACT

This chapter opens with a brief review of how archaeologists have tackled the task of classifying artifacts, with an emphasis on alternatives to these dominant strategies. It examines the distribution of individual variables, unlike previous work on locally made pipes that emphasized recognizing co-occurring attributes, identifying these as 'types' and then, perhaps, examining their distribution. Classifications are powerful when they serve some purpose. Their quality is evaluated not by some measure of completeness or symmetry, but from their fit with an application. There is no right or wrong way to classify locally made tobacco pipes, only a right way to classify them given a particular set of questions. The chapter also examines, on Linnaeus's influence and scientific classification more generally, links the problem of how to classify the pipes to the problem of how to classify people, demonstrating the parallels between these problems and connecting both to developments in colonial Virginia.