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Forager Interactions on the Edge of the Early Mississippian World: Neutron Activation Analysis of Ocmulgee and St. Johns Pottery

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This study integrates disparate geographical areas of the American Southeast to show how studies of Early Mississippian (A.D. 900-1250) interactions can benefit from a multiscalar approach. Rather than focus on contact and exchanges between farming communities, as is the case with most Mississippian interaction studies, we turn our attention to social relations between village-dwelling St. Johns II fisher-hunter-gatherers of northeastern Florida and more mobile Ocmulgee foragers of southern-central Georgia; non-neighboring groups situated beyond and within the southeastern edge of the Mississippian world, respectively. We draw upon neutron activation analysis data to document the presence of both imported and locally produced Ocmulgee Cordmarked wares in St. Johns II domestic and ritual contexts. Establishing social relations with Ocmulgee households or kin groups through exchange and perhaps marriage would have facilitated St. Johns II access into the Early Mississippian world and enabled them to acquire the exotic copper, stone, and other minerals found in St. Johns mortuary mounds. This study underscores the multiscalarity of past societies and the importance of situating local histories in broader geographical contexts.
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... The only sourcing of copper from St. Johns River mounds was Goad's (1978) optical emission spectrographic study that included 10 artifacts recovered by C.B. 1 It has recently been argued that one of the mechanisms responsible for the presence of non-local Ocmulgee Cordmarked pottery from south-central Georgia in St. Johns II contexts was intermarriage (Ashley et al. 2015). 2 Recognition of the similarities between Grant Mound and American Bottom artifacts is not an original observation on our part. ...
... The Ocmulgee territory lies immediately south of Macon Plateau along a direct waterway route, eventually linking Macon Plateau to Mill Cove. The cordmarked pottery made by Early Mississippian-period Ocmulgee foragers occurs in large numbers, as imports and local copies, at Mill Cove and other coeval St. Johns sites, including Mt. Royal (Ashley et al. 2015;Rolland 2005). Mill Cove is only a week or so travel by canoe from Macon Plateau, and an additional few days would have taken a journeyer to Mt. Royal. ...
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