PSU’s David Starbuck Publishes His Latest Book, Excavating the Sutlers’ House

June 29th, 2010 by Adam

A fascinating glimpse into colonial history is uncovered in the latest book by David R. Starbuck, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Plymouth State University. In 1996, on the east bank of the Hudson River, Starbuck’s archaeological team unearthed the remains of a sutlers’ (or merchants’) house which had supplied goods to the British armies throughout the late 1750s. Because no eighteenth-century sutling house had ever before been professionally excavated, this site offered an amazing opportunity for research and discovery. Excavating the Sutlers’ House focuses on remarkable artifacts from the French and Indian War to the American Revolution, including weaponry and ammunition, food, tools and equipment.

“Sutlers were civilian merchants who sold their wares to the army. By traveling to the frontier of early America, they took enormous risks, but there was also the opportunity to earn huge profits,” said Starbuck. “While archaeologists have often dug up the remains of tents, barracks and dumps where British soldiers left their trash, this was our first chance to actually go to the source, the remains of a tavern or trading post that sold the supplies.”

Starbuck and his colleagues have been excavating British military sites in Fort Edward and Lake George, New York, for two decades. This region housed the largest British forts and encampments of the French and Indian War (1754–1763), with as many as 16,000 soldiers and officers garrisoned there. Starbuck believes the archaeological discoveries shed valuable light on how colonial-era military sites shaped the local culture.

Excavating the Sutlers’ House presents, all in color, some of the most distinctive and representative artifacts of the French and Indian War,” said Starbuck. “This should prove to be an invaluable identification guide for archaeologists, curators, re-enactors and everyone else who enjoys studying life in early America.”

Starbuck’s previous archaeological excavations include Rogers Island, Fort Edward, Fort William Henry, and the Lake George Battlefield Park.

Excavating the Sutlers’ House is his seventh book from University Press of New England, following The Archeology of New Hampshire: Exploring 10,000 Years in the Granite State.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or