Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



archaeology, transportation networks


The premise of this paper is that changing modes of transportation significantly affected how residents of Castroville, Texas, acquired commodities, which in turn influenced how they expressed particular ethnic, regional, and class identities through consumption. Castroville residents lived (and continue to live) within a broader world system of commodity exchange. As we strive to understand how identities are reflected in and co-created through the objects we surround ourselves with, it is important to remember that economic relations that extend well beyond the local can structure a community’s access to commodities. Geographic space becomes a meaningful variable when we think about economic relations in concrete rather than abstract terms. The geography of economic relations is mediated by modes of transportation, and transportation is a technology that affects the process of subjectification by altering the relations of commodity acquisition.

This paper begins with the analysis of commodity flow that led me to the ideas I just outlined. I will describe how I compared part of the Biry/Tschirhart property glass bottle assemblage to an economic model of market access and commodity flow. This analysis raised several questions for me, which I address in the second half of the paper when I consider how wagon freighting, railroads, and trucking may have affected commodity flow in Castroville between the 1850s and the 1930s.


Paper presented at the Society for Historical Archaeology, Ft. Worth, Texas, January 4-8 2017