Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Rebecca Webster

Ph.D. Candidate


Preferred pronouns: she/her/hers

Subdiscipline: Archaeology


Rebecca Webster is a PhD candidate focusing on archaeology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Rebecca began her career in archaeology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City, Maryland, graduating in 2016. At St. Mary’s College, she researched sites including Late Woodland Indigenous villages, colonial households, and 19th century enslaved communities in the Chesapeake. In 2017, Rebecca relocated to Knoxville to study 17th century Indigenous-settler interactions in the Chesapeake with Dr. Barbara J. Heath. For her dissertation, she is assessing the use of attribute analyses of Indigenous-manufactured ceramics and smoking pipes as a method to highlight Indigenous coalescence and persistence during and after the colonial period, specifically highlighting the persistence of the Virginia Chicacoan/Wicocomico throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.

Dissertation Abstract:
Pots, Pipes, and People: Evaluating Chicacoan/Wicocomico Persistence Throughout the Potomac and Rappahannock River Valleys Through the Identification of Communities of Practice

In 1719, the Virginia colonial government dissolved the Wicocomico Indian Nation after the death of its werowance (chief), William Taptico Jr. In the eyes of the colonial settlers, this marked the end of the Wicocomico as a polity, people, and culture. However, the 177 members of the modern Wicocomico Nation Heritage Association have challenged this claim through extensive genealogical research. This contradiction reflects the tension felt between Indigenous descendant communities and individuals who have been educated and influenced by traditional historical narratives today. A central factor associated with Indigenous persistence that scholars previously overlooked, but descendant populations have embraced, is the coalescence and ethnogenesis of Indigenous populations during the colonial period. In this dissertation, I propose to use the Wicocomico as a case study to identify instances of Indigenous coalescence within the Potomac and Rappahannock River Valleys through archaeological analysis of Indigenous-manufactured ceramic and tobacco pipe attributes and genealogical evidence from the Late Woodland period until A.D. 1763. By performing these analyses, I seek to identify the presence of communities of practice within the region that could influence group decisions to coalesce or not. Through this theoretical and methodological framework, I hope to bring Indigenous narratives of persistence throughout the region to the forefront of historical conversations.


Curriculum Vitae


Indigenous archaeology, Indigenous-Anglo interactions, Chesapeake, culture change, materiality, historical archaeology, colonialism




B.A., St. Mary's College of Maryland. Anthropology and History. 2016.

Professional Service

2021 Society for American Archaeology
2019 Society of Bead Researchers
2019 Council of Virginia Archaeologist
2019 Southeastern Archaeological Conference
2017 Society for Historical Archaeology
2016 Archaeological Society of Maryland, St. Mary’s County Branch
2016 Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference
2015 Lambda Alpha National Anthropology Honors Society

Awards and Recognitions

2021 Heath, Barbara J., and Rebecca J. Webster. VDHR Threatened Sites Program, Proposal for Archaeological Survey and Test Excavations at Boathouse Pond, Northumberland County, Virginia,
2020 Heath, Barbara J., and Rebecca J. Webster. VDHR Threatened Sites Program, Proposal for Archaeological Survey at Boathouse Pond (44NB111), Northumberland County, Virginia,
2022-2023 Humanities Center Graduate Student Fellowship, University of Tennessee, Knoxville,
2022 Oscar Roy Ashley Graduate Fellowship, University of Tennessee, Knoxville,
2021 Sandra Speiden ASV Graduate Student Research Scholarship, Archaeological Society of Virginia,
2021 Michael H. Logan Outstanding Teaching Associate, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee,
2019 Gloria S. King Research Fellowship, Maryland Archaeology Laboratory,
2022 Society for American Archaeology Ethics Bowl, Society for American Archaeology, Champion,
2022 Jamie Chad Brandon Student Paper Competition, Society for Historical Archaeology, Runner-Up (Co-author),
2020 Jamie Chad Brandon Student Paper Competition, Society for Historical Archaeology, Runner-Up

Contact Information