Book

Late prehistoric Florida: Archaeology at the edge of the Mississippian world

Book

Late prehistoric Florida: Archaeology at the edge of the Mississippian world

Abstract

Prehistoric Florida societies, particularly those of the peninsula, have been largely ignored or given only minor consideration in overviews of the Mississippian southeast (A.D. 1000-1600). This groundbreaking volume lifts the veil of uniformity frequently draped over these regions in the literature, providing the first comprehensive examination of Mississippi-period archaeology in the state. Featuring contributions from some of the most prominent researchers in the field, this collection describes and synthesizes the latest data from excavations throughout Florida. In doing so, it reveals a diverse and vibrant collection of cleared-field maize farmers, part-time gardeners, hunter-gatherers, and coastal and riverine fisher/shellfish collectors who formed a distinctive part of the Mississipian southeast. © 2012 by Keith Ashley and Nancy Marie White. All rights reserved.
... On the contrary, the results presented here highlight how cultural resilience is an important factor to consider in understanding encapsulation and disruptive, often violent biocultural expansion processes, both in the recent and prehistoric past. This perspective should provide new avenues of inquiry into other cases of complex hunter-gatherer niche construction and biocultural resilience, including the Jomon in the Japanese archipelago, the Kuril Islands, the Scandinavian and Baltic Late Mesolithic and early Neolithic, the western Iberian Mesolithic, and the Florida Gulf Coast (Ashley and White, 2012;Fitzhugh et al., 2016;Habu, 2004;Hutchinson, 2004;Marquardt, 2001;Nilsson Stutz, 2014Stjerna, 2016;Stutz, 2012). ...
Thesis
This research explores how daily practices shape community organization and contribute to regional historical trajectories. I focus on a case study of the pre-Columbian Safety Harbor occupation (ca. AD 1000-1500) of the Weeden Island site, on the west central Gulf coast of Florida. Safety Harbor residents of Weeden Island occupied a coastal locale with access to estuarine resources, in a region neighboring powerful and increasingly complex groups, and within a settlement system and political environment that may have begun to adopt new ideologies and organizing principles. This project was designed to investigate a central research topic: During the Safety Harbor period, a time of regional changes in the settlement system and intensified interactions with powerful neighbors, what local opportunities to collaborate, coordinate labor, or compete for resources or authority emerged from the daily domestic practices at Weeden Island? This case study is situated relative to two broad theoretical realms: the archaeological study of communities and ordinary domestic life, and anthropological approaches to long-term social change, including the development of complexity and inequality in hunter-gatherer societies. In addressing these bodies of literature, I aim to distinguish the local exercise of authority from power and influence at multi-community scales, and to emphasize the place of the local community in investigating broader historical trajectories. The dissertation project focuses on original research at the Weeden Island site. This research included geophysical survey and excavations and the study of resulting materials, including stylistic and formal analysis of artifacts (primarily pottery; shell, bone, and stone tools; and shell and bone ornaments and associated debitage), zooarchaeological identification and analysis, macrobotanical identification, and radiocarbon dates. I argue that while there were abundant opportunities for the local coordination of community labor in subsistence activities, the crafting of tradeable shell ornaments was a likely domain for differentiation at an intrasite level and potentially between residents of the residential community as well. This study also has methodological implications for the combined use of magnetic susceptibility and magnetometer in forested shell-bearing sites. This study highlights that craft production and trade were likely venues for social change in Safety Harbor residential and regional communities. At the local scale, coastal Safety Harbor communities focused on the production of shell beads, and this may also have been an area of experimentation with new divisions of labor, or the development of new ideological or ceremonial concepts. By transitioning from peripheral participants in Weeden Island era ceremonial culture to purveyors of raw and crafted shell goods, Safety Harbor people created a new role for themselves on the regional landscape, with implications for local historical trajectories.
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No area along the far edges of the Mississippian world is as remote from Cahokia as northeastern Florida. But objects of possible Cahokian derivation, though limited in number, made their way to this distant locale The most compelling material evidence in Florida for any kind of connection to Cahokia comes from the Mill Cove Complex and Mt. Royal along the St. Johns River of the northern peninsula. Situated about 100 km from one another, these two fisher-hunter-gatherer communities were recipients of copper and stone artifacts that likely originated in the American Bottom, some 1200 km away. The overall geographical distribution of Cahokian styles and artifacts enmeshed varied internal and external processes and flows that encompassed exploration, migration, diaspora, trade, and politics. While no evidence exists for a Cahokian outpost or diaspora as far south as Florida, the presence of American Bottom artifacts along the St. Johns River could have involved more than the stock answer of simple down-the-line-exchange. This essay explores issues of long-distance travel, direct contact, knowledge seeking, object biographies, and diplomacy among peoples from these geographically disparate locales.
Article
Our work at Mound Key, the Capital of the Calusa Kingdom, identifies a large structure on top of Mound 1 that likely was associated with a powerful long-lived lineage. The rise to power for this group coincided with a significant amelioration of the shallow-water estuarine environment of Estero Bay during the Warm Medieval Period. We interpret this commitment to place as a way for successive members of this lineage to transmit political and social capital. We propose that prior to the sixteenth century the Calusa, and the broader landscape these groups inhabited, were organized much like the great houses were at the community level. A series of small polities participated in a fluctuating heterarchical system, that were likely the result of political jockeying of high ranking houses at larger settlements. We argue that long-lived houses with their accrued political and social capital were in the best position to take advantage of events that afforded the differential exercise of agency among their peers, allowing for new, novel, and seemingly more complex engagements. We use this case study to examine the role of collective action for the development of the Calusa Kingdom observed by the Spanish explorers during the sixteenth century, and its broader comparative lessons for state building among similarly organized societies.
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There are many examples of colonial entanglements resulting in shifts in religions, practices, subsistence, and political structures, largely linked to inequalities between the colonized and the colonizers. However, there are also examples in which practices, particularly among Native American societies, persisted in the context of social situations that intertwined peoples with diverse histories. At the time of Spanish arrival, the Calusa of southwestern Florida were a large‐scale, hierarchical society with supra‐community integration and were able to maintain high degrees of autonomy. Our focus here is to explicate the early colonial world of the Calusa. Specifically, we want to understand why early European interactions take such a dramatically different course in southwestern Florida than in other areas of Spanish colonization. To do so we use political ecology and recent scholarship on eventful archaeology to consider Calusa and Spanish social and political action. Our work focuses on interactions between the Spanish and the Calusa during the early and mid‐sixteenth century (ca. 1513 to 1569 CE). We argue that because the Calusa were fisher‐gatherer‐hunters, lacked maize agriculture, and had their capital on the defensible island of Mound Key, Spanish‐Calusa interactions and events transpired in a fundamentally different context compared to other Spanish outposts and colonies. With this example, we show how various events, knowledge, and traditions of the Calusa of southern Florida all worked to create a vastly different colonial entanglement that resulted in the Spanish abandonment of the area for some time.
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Interest in the study of foodways through an archaeological lens, particularly in the American Southeast, is evident in the abundance of literature on this topic over the past decade. Foodways as a concept includes all of the activities, rules, and meanings that surround the production, harvesting, processing, cooking, serving, and consumption of food. We study foodways and components of foodways archaeologically through direct and indirect evidence. The current synthesis is concerned with research themes in the archaeology of Southeastern foodways, including feasting, gender, social and political status, and food insecurity. In this review, I explore the information that can be learned from material remains of the foodstuffs themselves and the multiple lines of evidence that can help us better understand the meanings, rituals, processes, and cultural meanings and motivations of foodways.
Technical Report
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The research presented in this paper began with the popular romantic notion that the discovery of mainland North America by Ponce de Leon in 1519 was inspired by a motivation to find “The Fountain of Youth”. Awareness of the unusual hydrological science of Florida, and the particularly grand limestone spring formations, then led to the proposition that there was an interchange of myth and knowledge of these formations from the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean to the early explorers.
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Lead-isotope ratio measurements of galena samples from three prehistoric archaeological sites in south Florida indicate a close similarity to the isotopic ratios of galena deposits in southeast Missouri. The isotopic provenance determinations provide supporting evidence for the acquisition by native peoples in Florida of exotic materials from distant locations via trade networks.
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The recent discovery of a cache of 70 groundstone axe-heads at the Grossmann site, near Cahokia, in the Mississippi valley prompts a new interpretation of the commemorative and ritual value of such deposits. The makers of these axe-heads seem to belong to a community of specialists who had a contributory role in the foundation of the Cahokia polity.
Article
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The human skeletal series from the Snow Beach site (8WA52) consists of a relatively small number of individuals representing the only historic, non-Mission native burial population from northwest Florida for which stable isotope data have been analyzed. The stable isotope analysis indicates less than complete reliance upon maize-based agriculture by this cultural group of Mississippian complexity. Rather, those interred in the mound at Snow Beach appear to have incorporated a variety of non-domesticates into their diet, illustrating the importance of localized adaptations in fort Walton and Apalachee populations. Valuable information for dating the skeletal materials was derived from the bead assemblage, as well as from related lines of archaeological evidence.
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This study makes use of archaeological data from settlement survey and test excavations at five site locations in the Big Black River valley of central Mississippi. These data are used to reconstruct the settlement pattern and assess the functional role of sites within a late prehistoric period, small-scale Mississippian culture that inhabited the valley from A.D. 1200-1500. The settlement system was characterized by the Old Hoover platform mound (22HO502) and its outlying nonmound support population of homesteads, referred to as a two-tiered hierarchical settlement system. Analysis of excavation results from the mound and nonmound sites revealed archaeological assemblage patterns characterized by very little social status differentiation. Examination of the lithic, ceramic, and botanical assemblages recovered from the mound reflects communal feasting activities associated with a large specialized structure, corresponding to ethnohistoric descriptions of southeastern temples. Comparisons of archaeological assemblage patterns are made with similarly organized late prehistoric two-tiered settlement systems characterized by the Pocahontas site in the lower Big Black valley of central Mississippi and the Lubbub Creek site in the Tombigbee valley of western Alabama.
Article
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Archaeologists interested in the late prehistory of the Southeast have tended to fix their attention on sedentary, mound-building agricultural groups, often excluding those that lacked farming and institutionalized societal ranking, the hallmarks of Mississippian life. Coastal societies of the period given any consideration are usually those depicted as most similar to interior Mississippian chiefdoms; that is, coastal groups dependent on fish and other wild resources, with supplementary swidden agriculture and hierarchical sociopolitical organization. Southeastern North America, however, was not a socially and politically uniform landscape, and not all late prehistoric groups were farmers, nor were they all organized as chiefdoms. This article focuses on the St. Johns II peoples of northeastern Florida, who were coastal fisher-hunter-gatherers with a communally oriented political economy during the early Mississippi period (AD 900-1250). These coastal peoples were not cut off from the Mississippian world, but rather were actively engaged in interaction and exchange networks, that brought utilitarian artifacts, exotica, and information to northeastern Florida.
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Holocene barrier islands in Lee County are composed of beach ridges organized into distinct, unconformable sets bounded by erosion surfaces. These beach-ridge sets are further differentiated on the basis of average elevation. Five fluctuations have been identified in these islands: 1) a rise of 4- to 6-feet at 2000 BP, 2) a fall of 3- to 5-feet at 1500 BP, 3) a rise of 2- to 3-feet at 1100 BP, 4) a fall of about 2-feet at 500 BP, and 5) a rise over the past hundred or so years. Each fluctuation had an initial depositional phase followed by an erosional phase as the supply rate fell below a critical threshold. A decrease in sand-supply rate reflects a source depletion and/or a redirection of the transport path. -from Authors
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The Pulcher tradition represents an Emergent Mississippian tradition located on Cahokia's southern periphery. This tradition persists into the early part of the Early Mississippi period and is focused on the large mound center of Pulcher. Interaction between Cahokia and Pulcher, ca. AD 1000-1100, and the role of ritual in this process, is evident in the distribution ceramics. The extent to which peripheral groups contributed to the development of Mississippian political complexes can be explored as a result of the last three decades of investigation in the region around the large Emergent Mississippian and Mississippian center of Cahokia (Bareis and Porter 1984). This article focuses on the complex chiefdom of Cahokia at its beginning, during the eleventh and early twelfth centuries AD, and its relationship to a smaller chiefdom-level society cen­ tered around the Pulcher mound complex about 25 km south of the Cahokia site (Figure 1). Examination of the relationship between Cahokia and Pulcher includes the following avenues of inquiry. First, the historical roots of the two centers are reviewed. Their antecedents are to a large extent embedded in an archaeological complex termed Emergent Mississip­ pian. The emergence of Cahokia as a Mississippian center cannot be linked solely to its local antecedents. The Pulcher site, on the other hand, maintained a strong affiliation with its past, technologically, stylistically, ritually, and symbolically. Second, the interaction between the two chiefdoms is examined within the context of ritual. I see ritual behavior as an integrative mechanism for social cohesion within and between both societies. Material culture (in this instance, ceramics) and its context provide the basis for defining ritual. Third, the importance of kinship, especially clan/lineage structure, is briefly discussed, because this formed the major conduits of ritual behavior among historic Native American societies. Cahokia
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The organizational structure of the famous Chaco Phenomenon has long been debated by southwestern archaeologists. To better clarify the nature and dynamics of Chacoan organization we need to rethink the relationship between social power and the appropriation of surplus labor in middle-range societies. Drawing on the tradition of anthropological political economy, I outline a theoretical approach that allows for the relative autonomy of power and labor relations in human social life and models Chacoan political economy using a ''thin definition'' of communalism. Empirical patterns from the Chaco and post-Chaco eras in the northern Southwest are presented in support of a model of Chaco communalism and change dynamics. Suggestions for furthering a political economy of the Chaco Phenomenon that respects the difference or ''otherness'' of the past are also detailed.
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A review of the history of marine-shell chemical-sourcing efforts preceeds the introduction of this project. Atomic-absorption spectroscopy (AAS) was used to assay levels of Ca, Mg, Fe, and Sr, in 44 prehistoric Busycon carica and Busycon perversum specimens from the eastern United States. Control shells (35) were collected from food refuse in coastal archaeological sites from Long Island to the Mexico-United States border. Subject shells came from nine Archaic and Mississippian sites. Elemental ratios were clustered to derive a probable water-body origin for the nine artifacts. The influence of diagenesis, body part, and species was negligible, but geography heavily influenced the results. The three shells from Monks Mound indicated origin in tropical, eastern Gulf, and Atlantic water. The shells from the Indian Knoll, Mulberry, and Tatham sites appear to have originated in eastern Gulf waters. The shell from the Archaic-period Ward site seems to have come from tropical water.
Article
Ethnohistorical analysis of Southeastern chiefdoms reveals a pattern of hierarchy very different from those proposed in the ideal evolutionary types of Kirchhoff and Service. In this area, Mississippian aristocratic organization probably evolved on a uniform base of ranked exogamous matriclan and moiety systems. Despite stratification into classes of noble and commoner, nobilities retained their character as exogamous groups. Ranking by genealogical distance from the royal line was restricted to the close kin of the paramount. A limited agnatic inheritance of nobility was adopted to offset the effects of noble exogamy on the offspring of male nobles in an otherwise uterine system.
Article
Between A.D. 950 and 1250, hunter-gathers using Ocmulgee/Blackshear Cord Marked ceramics occupied the Ocmulgee Big Bend and surrounding river drainages in south-central Georgia. Ashley (2002) suggests these groups acted as "middlemen" in a trade network between St. Johns II people on the coast and agricultural groups in the interior. This model is tested using isotopic and dental data based on individuals from two Cord Marked sites, Cannon (9CP52) and Telfair Mound (9TF2). Results do not suggest the Ocmulgee/Blackshear Cord Marked groups were acting as middlemen in a trade network between the interior and coast. Rather, the data indirectly support Ashley's alternative model, which suggests the Ocmulgee groups allowed the St. Johns II groups to travel through the river valleys to trade with the interior groups (Ashley 2002).
Article
Mistaken assumptions about the scale and economic infrastructure of the Cahokian polity have led to a gross misunderstanding of occupational specialization, prestige-goods exchange, and political centralization. New data on the restricted production of igneous-rock axeheads and mollusc-shell ornaments in the Cahokia region indicate the centrally sponsored manufacture of local symbols using exotic raw materials. Cahokian patrons, rather than being involved in an overintegrated panregional economic system, controlled the production and distribution of symbols within their domain and appropriated cultural meanings in the process.
Article
Many theoretical and methodological approaches recognize the importance of frontiers, boundaries, and edges in understanding human behavior. We introduce a set of articles thematically focused on social formations at the spatial and temporal edges of the Mississippian world. We define certain concepts central to each contribution, outline a framework for conceptualizing the edges of Mississippian, and discuss some significant issues that can be addressed by exploring edge societies. Ultimately we argue that studying societies at the edge of Mississippian will help to produce a clearer understanding of the development of Mississippian social forms and the Mississippian world as an integrated system.
Article
The historical lack of a maritime perspective, combined with preservation and methodological biases, contributed to early functional misinterprelations of Precolumbian fishing-related artifacts by archaeologists working in Florida and other coastal areas. Three artifact types - Bone Point, Grooved Shell Columella, and Polished Rectangle - are hypothesized to have been key components of a fishing tradition. Worldiwde ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and archaeological examples provide analogues for formal and functional comparisons with the three artifact types. Quantitative study of columellae, rectangles, and fish remains from two environmental areas of coastal southwest Florida suggests that smaller artifacts and fish are associated with shallow water while larger ones are associated with deeper waters - expected patterns if the artifacts functioned as fishing implements. These multiple lines of evidence support the hypothesis that bone points, grooved shell columellae, and polished rectangles primarily functioned as fishhooks, sinkers, and net mesh gauges, respectively. As such, this study contributes to the recognition of archaeological material correlates for Precolumbian fishing traditions.
Article
Shell tempering began to be used among the Baytown peoples in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas about A.D. 800. Based on more than 150 dated contexts from this region, shell tempering was slowly incorporated into ceramic pastes over the next 300 years. Between ca. A.D. 800 and A.D. 1100 there was a period of experimentation with mixed tempering. The component tempers included combinations of grog, shell, and sand in various proportions. Shell-tempered pottery was sometimes ground and used for grog. After about A.D. 1100 straight shell was the dominant temper found in the pottery. The data reviewed here, particularly from the Gilmore and Tyronza sites, suggest the earliest occurrences of shell-tempered pottery in the Baytown area appear to be concentrated in ceremonial contexts. I hypothesize that these occurrences represent specialized ceramics that were traded by, and in the hands of, religious practitioners. This hypothesis needs additional testing, with more radiometric dates run from both domestic and ceremonial assemblages in good primary contexts.
Article
A consideration of some smaller Mississippian sites with and without mounds outside the Ohio River Valley in western Kentucky suggests that they went through complex, subtle settlement shifts through time. Although it is difficult to fully identify these shifts, or, more important, understand their significance, it would seem prudent to hedge bets and eschew their interpretation in terms of grand schemes of socio/ political levels of complexity based on the interpretation of major Mississippian centers nearby such as Kincaid and Angel. Rather, we should try explaining them in terms more closely tied to local settlement history. In turn, given the interpretive ambiguity that these shifts produce in the smaller sites, possibly more recognizable simply because the sites are smaller, it is suggested that an understanding of the historical complexity of the large sites, equally, cannot be ignored in their interpretation, however imperfectly it may be documented. This said, the political interpretation of these large centers as chiefdoms, which views these sites simply as the sum of their spectacular parts, must be tempered by interpretive caution. Their political organization at any moment in time may have been less spectacular, their evolution through times far more complex than it seems.
Article
Florida's archaeological record documents 12,000 years of the human past, from the earliest accepted occupation of the North American continent through the modern societies of recent history. Because much of Florida prehistory and history was marginal to core areas of cultural and historical development in both the distant and recent past, one value of Florida archaeology is the unique view it provides from the periphery. At the same time, Florida archaeology contributes to the larger fields of anthropology and archaeology because its major concepts illuminate broad but sometimes disparate themes taken up by researchers around the world. These themes, the focus of this essay, include culture contact studies, the multiple scales of interaction between human cultures and the environment, the complexity of foraging societies, the historical archaeology of the modern world, and the public benefits of archaeology.
Article
Some archaeologists argue that centralized control over economically vital tools and resources was a common strategy by which chiefs came to power in complex, non-state societies. Other archaeologists argue that relations of inequality were negotiated and produced through the elite control of display goods, rather than utilitarian items. An investigation of the Monndville greenstone industry is particularly relevant to this debate as the raw material known as greenstone, a chlorite schist that outcrops in northeast Alabama, was used to manufacture both elaborate display items and basic subsistence tools. Evidence for centralized production of greenstone display goods contrasts with an absence of. evidence for centralized production of utilitarian celts. Thus, relations of inequality at Moundville appear to have been produced more directly through chiefly control of material symbols rather than utilitarian economic items.
Article
Excavations at the Dirst site (3MR80) identified a stratified Late Woodland component that produced radiocarbon dates in the cal. A.D. 600-975 range. Trash pit assemblages from this component include faunal and floral remains, temporally diagnostic dart and arrow points, and shell-tempered pottery sherds. The Spradley Field site cemetery (3NW101) produced a collection of whole and reconstructed shell-tempered vessels there were also radiocarbon dated to the same time period. These assemblages provide important evidence concerning the advent of shell-tempered pottery production in the central Arkansas Ozarks.
Article
The Middle-Late Holocene transition around 2,500 B.C. is one of the defining episodes of regional landscape changes in the Southeastern United States area and throughout the world. Coeval cultural and climatic changes are recognized locally and worldwide. Analyzing local cultural change records while incognizant of the shifts in global scale context can lead to misunderstandings of the reasons for changes. Studies of the global climate processes suggest that climate differences between the Middle and Late Holocene could emanate from astronomical and geophysical influences. The influences include variations in the earth's rotational tilt, solar emissions, global-scale volcanism, and atmospheric chemistry. How do these quantities affect watershed-sized landscapes? Resolving this question requires a landscape-oriented analysis of global climate forces. A "looking-up" perspective on global climate is proposed that is compatible with the needs of archaeological analysis, and which supplements the "looking down" emphasis of climatology. The looking-up perspective takes advantage of the variability and long term cyclicity of global climate. Regional climate impacts of global change are modeled using modern climate processes to test for sensitivity of regional hydrology to global change, especially seasonality of precipitation. Landscape impact hypotheses are suggested in anticipation of further study.
Article
Was shell-tempered pottery in Alabama introduced by Mississippian migrants, who also brought with them advanced horticulture, pyramidal mound building, and other trappings of social complexity? Or did it represent a gradual technological change on the part of resident hunting and harvesting inhabitants? We present the available data pertinent to this issue and argue that the discernible patterning justifies a model that posits an adaptive radiation on the part of newly arrived Mississippian food producers whose tenure overlapped with that of indigenous hunters and harvesters. We further argue that in the process some hunters and harvesters were transformed into food producers, thus adding to the population growth of a social formation whose administrative structure promoted the "budding off' of daughter units that removed themselves from their parent's administrative reach and furthered the colonization of areas occupied by indigenous hunters and harvesters.
Article
We briefly review problems in understanding the temporal and spatial distribution of shell-tempered pottery in prehistoric eastern North American, drawing on evidence provided by other papers in this issue of Southeastern Archaeology. Many problems are chronological: When did shell-tempered pottery first appear, when did it rise to high frequencies, and how fast did it replace earlier pottery tempered with other materials? Direct dating of ceramics is required to address these questions. Difficulties with chronology aside, the largest challenge is in understanding why shell-tempered pottery achieved the popularity it did. Both historical and functional explanations are considered: Can migration or diffusion account for its appearance in different areas? Can the selective value of shell-tempered pottery be determined? How has shell's unique firing requirements limited its distribution?
Chapter
There have been numerous definitions of the Southeast as a culture area based on various criteria (Smith 1986: Fig 1:1) and, as Smith has pointed out, the problem is compounded when prehistoric data are considered since the boundary shifts back and forth through time. There is general agreement, however, that the Southeast includes at least the Lower Mississippi Valley on the west and the coastal plain and southern half of the Appalachians to the east. This brings up one other more immediate consideration in delineating the area to be covered in this chapter. Gibson deals with the lower Mississippi Valley in Chapter 6, Brose covers the Midwest in Chapter 8, and Stewart reviews trade in the Middle Atlantic states in Chapter 4. The area that remains covers most of the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
Article
Fort Walton culture in northwest Florida is presented in the archaeological literature as the adaptation of sedentary, maize-producing agriculturalists who participated in certain mortuary practices and symbolism, long-distance trade networks, and chiefdom-level sociopolitical units similar to those of other contemporaneous Mississippian manifestations throughout the Southeast. We examine the data from which the extant models were drawn - ceramics, settlement patterns, chronology, and dates - to reveal how limited and derived they are and to present our own interpretation of Fort Walton, which represents the cultural accomplishments of the last prehistoric people in this area.
Article
During the field season of 1979 a bauxite statuette known as the Birger figurine was uncovered at the BBB Motor site, a Middle Mississippian ceremonial site on the outskirts of Cahokia. A comparison of the figurine's compositional elements with characteristics ascribed to fertility goddesses in the myths of several historic eastern North American tribes suggests that the Birger figurine's symbolism shares many of the concepts associated with various historic fertility deities, and that it represents a Mississippian version of the Earth-Mother.
Article
Located on the West Tennessee Coastal Plain, Pinson Mounds is one of the largest Middle Woodland ceremonial centers in eastern North America. The site includes at least 12 mounds, a geometric embankment, and associated temporary habitation areas within an area of approximately 160 ha. Of particular significance is the presence of five large platform mounds ranging in height from 3 to 22 m. A series of two dozen radiocarbon determinations indicate that the Pinson Mounds site was constructed and used between approximately A.D. 1-500.
Article
Archaeologists now possess the knowledge and techniques necessary to identify pottery-vessel function with a reasonable degree of specificity. This article is intended to demonstrate that capability. The pottery vessel assemblage characteristic of the sixteenth-century Barnett phase in northwest Georgia consists of 13 physically and morphologically distinct vessel types. The mechanical performance characteristics of these vessel types are identified and employed in formulating hypotheses concerning the way vessel types were used. Historic Southeastern Indian food habits are reconstructed from ethnohistorical and ethnographic evidence and employed to refine the vessel-use hypotheses.