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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

Cross-disciplinary and cross-national studies are by definition secondary and peripheral to traditional historical and cultural research. This is especially true for historical archaeology, which examines the material cultures of early modern societies overwhelmingly European or European in origin. These societies typically developed into nation-states and competitively engaged in world trade and overseas territorial acquisition. The physical remains of the earliest phase of European expansion, the 'Proto-Colonial Period', now lie scattered among scores of independent states across the globe. Europeans defended their overseas possessions or soon lost them, yet the context for individual fort construction and maintenance in the proto-colonial period was both cultural and institutional. The cultural context comprised the education and artistic sensibility that builder/engineer brought to the colony. The institutional context for fort construction was the objectives of the colonizing polity and its ability to carry them out. Such authority differed according to time and place.

Keywords: fort construction; historical archaeology; proto-colonial period

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