Archaeologists have generally been slow to recognize the value of 'Annales' approaches to their discipline, and maritime archaeologists, in particular, have been even slower. The analytical framework used in this paper draws on applications of Annales approaches to archaeology in what is termed the "archaeology of the event". The resulting holistic approach places the specificity of the event within the wider cultural context. Furthermore, terrestrial historical archaeology has largely ignored the potential that cargo material, derived from maritime archaeological excavations, has to contribute to understandings of colonial settlement. This paper moves beyond the usual functional approaches to the analysis of the meanings of material culture. A major part of the archaeological data used here is drawn from the cargo assemblages of four post-settlement shipwrecks excavated in Australian waters during the past 30 years: Sydney Cove, James Matthews, William Salthouse, and Eglinton. This paper provides a theoretical and methodological model for the systematic analysis of consumer goods that can be used to better understand cultural aspects of colonial settlement
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