Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts

Below are abstracts for masters theses and doctoral dissertations with relevance to Midwestern archaeology. Email us if you wish for us to consider posting the abstract of your completed masters thesis or doctoral dissertation.


Climate Change, Migration, and the Emergence of Village Life on the Mississippian Periphery: A Middle Ohio Valley Case Study

by Aaron Comstock
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Ohio State University
May 2017

The emergence of agrarian village life in the Middle Ohio Valley has traditionally been viewed as an isolated, autochthonous development. Fort Ancient (AD 1000-1650) societies are seen as direct descendants of preceding Late Woodland (AD 500-1000) groups. The processes presumed to underlie this transition are gradual aggregation and a growing reliance on maize over time. This project examines village development in detail at Turpin (33HA19), a well-known transitional site in the Little Miami Valley of southwestern Ohio. Relying on the tenets of macroevolutionary theory, I develop a multiscalar framework with four scales of analysis focused on better understanding village development. First, I thoroughly examine one early Fort Ancient site, Turpin, with a focus on community structure, household architecture, chronology, and material culture. Second, I place these finding in the context of contemporary communities in the Middle Ohio Valley, comparing sites based on community structure, architectural style, and ceramic characteristics. Third, I expand scope of analysis by adding contemporary early Mississippian sites in the Lower Ohio Valley and eastern Tennessee, providing a comparative framework for understanding the importance of interregional contact in cultural change. Finally, considering cultural transitions during the period between AD 1000 and AD 1400 occurred in the context of the Medieval Climate Anomaly, I use prehistoric drought data to examine shifting climatic conditions in the Midcontinent. These conditions reflect potential push and pull factors influencing the movement of people throughout this region.

The findings of this multiscalar project provide evidence that the early Fort Ancient period in the Lower Miami Valleys was catalyzed by an influx of Mississippian migrants. Excavations at Turpin have produced evidence of two early Fort Ancient communities. One house in each community was excavated. House 1 is a Mississippian-style wall trench structure first constructed between cal. AD 1040 and cal. AD 1188, and then renovated between cal. AD 1162 and cal. AD 1250. The basin of this structure was filled with refuse, including Mississippian-like shell tempered vessels with plain surfaces. House 2 is another Mississippian-style wall trench structure built between cal. AD 1206 and cal. AD 1270. This house basin was filled with more classic Fort Ancient ceramics after its occupation ended.

Comparing early Fort Ancient sites in the Lower Miami Valleys with contemporary Fort Ancient and Mississippian sites suggests that communities in the Middle Ohio Valley like Turpin, Guard, and State Line were occupied by Mississippian people. These three sites all demonstrate notable Mississippian characteristics, including shell tempered ceramics, circular villages, wall trench houses, and non-local individuals. The movement of Mississippians into the Middle Ohio Valley occurred at a time in which Mississippian polities to the west experienced significant multidecadal droughts. During this time, the Middle Ohio Valley remained relatively wet. These conditions provided important push (drought) and pull (wet conditions) factors for maize agriculturalists. I argue that mounting evidence from Turpin and other early Fort Ancient sites, many of which stand in stark contrast to preceding Late Woodland settlements, reflect the remains of Mississippian communities, the founders of which emigrated from Mississippian centers like Angel, Kincaid, and Cahokia.


Late Paleo-Indian Period Lithic Economies, Mobility, and Group Organization in Wisconsin.

by Ethan A. Epstein
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
December 2016

The following dissertation focuses upon the organization of Pleistocene / Holocene period lithic technology in Wisconsin circa 10,000 – 10,500 years before present. Lithic debitage and flaked stone tools from the Plainview/Agate Basin components of the Heyrman I site (47DR381), the Dalles site (47IA374), and the Kelly North Tract site at Carcajou Point(47JE02) comprise the data set. These Wisconsin sites are located within a post glacial Great Lakes dune environment, an inland drainage/riverine environment, and an inland wetland/lacustrine environment. An assemblage approach is used to examine the structure of each site’s lithic economy. This broad approach to lithic organization is taken in order to maximize the number of lithic categories for comparison and avoid the more narrow scope of understanding that can result from focusing upon a single lithic category. Prior research has shown that the examination of lithic technology provides a well-founded basis for inference regarding small group economy, mobility, and organization. Current investigations suggest that small groups present during the Pleistocene/Holocene transition may have practiced two bilateral economies, one based more upon lower group mobility or logistical mobility, the other based more upon residential or higher group mobility. These distinctions are important given that our understanding of the correlation between resource use, mobility, and small group organization with environment may be critical in adapting to current socioeconomic problems. Although few Pleistocene/Holocene transition period sites have been systematically investigated in Wisconsin, this examination suggests that both early Paleoindian and late Paleoindian/Early Archaic economies and mobility strategies varied with localized environments. Examination of the data recovered from the Heyrman I, Dalles, and North Tract sites increases the understanding of economic adaptations, small group mobility, and group structure across multiple environments and provides further insight into human responses to changing resource conditions.


Investigating the Functions of Copper Material Culture from Four Oneota Sites of the Lake Koshkonong Region.

by Jacqueline Marie Pozza
Abstract of Masters Thesis
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
December 2016

This thesis explores Oneota use of native copper in the Lake Koshkonong locality between A.D. 1100 and 1400. Over 600 pieces of Oneota copper artifacts originating from four sites were documented and analyzed in order to investigate distribution, production, utilization, and the ideological and social significance behind this raw material. The artifacts analyzed for this study were recovered from Oneota sites adjacent to Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County, Wisconsin: Crabapple Point (47JE93), Schmeling (47JE833), Koshkonong Creek Village (47JE379), and Crescent Bay Hunt Club (47JE904). These assemblages primarily included awls, beads, pendants, and fragmented material. The data set also includes unique items, such as adzes and a copper mace. Data collected through this project supported multiple conclusions surrounding Lake Koshkonong Oneota copper use. Manufacturing marks on beads provide arguments for multiple manufacturing traditions in the area. The use-wear observed on awls both support and question previous assumptions of their use. Additionally, the distribution of these artifacts among the sites and the iconographic symbols present among the collections suggest larger ideological and social significance of copper within Oneota groups. It also appears that the Lake Koshkonong locality has a prolonged tradition of metalworking that extends from Archaic to Historic period, implying a cultural association with metal production and the physical setting of these sites. Overall, these conclusions suggest that the Oneota viewed copper as a prestige good. These valued items both established and reaffirmed social order and legitimized the ideological, economic, military, and political power of certain individuals or kin groups living along the northwest shores of Lake Koshkonong at this time.


Late Archaic Hunter-Gatherer Lithic Technology and Function (Chipped Stone, Ground Stone, and Fire-Cracked Rock): A Study of Domestic Life, Foodways, and Seasonal Mobility on Grand Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

by Fernanda Neubauer
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Wisconsin-Madison
December 2016

My doctoral research highlights the complicated trajectories of hunter-gatherers by offering a case study from an understudied but rich hunter-gatherer landscape, the Late Archaic period (c. 5,000-2,000 BP) on Grand Island, Michigan. My analysis of 39,186 lithics from five sites on the island more than doubles the current number of c. 32,000 lithics analyzed in the entire Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from dated Late Archaic sites. In order to investigate how people made decisions related to domestic life, foodways, technology, settlement patterns, seasonal mobility, and landscape interactions on Grand Island, my study integrates multiple lines of evidence — chipped stone, ground stone, fire-cracked rock, artifact spatial distribution analysis, faunal, floral, and lipid residue analyses — to portray a thorough picture of ancient daily life in the region. The primary research objective is focused on identifying domestic life and mobility practices on Grand Island during the Late Archaic period and understanding how these patterns may reflect the strategies of local communities. I suggest that Grand Island represented an important place in the landscape for ancient peoples who repeatedly utilized the island for seasonal social aggregations during autumn to process foods communally in relatively larger scales. Because organic remains are poorly preserved in the region, fire-cracked rock (FCR) is key to investigating ancient diets and how foods were processed and cooked. Although FCRs dominate the Late Archaic assemblage on Grand Island and are found in great quantities at hunter-gatherer sites around the world, FCRs remain an understudied analytical artifact type. I conducted FCR experiments and developed a methodology to analyze FCRs with the purpose of identifying the general signatures of various thermal alteration patterns. My results indicate great inter-site variability among FCR characteristics, cooking methods, and cooking facilities at the studied sites. The larger goal of this study is to contribute to a new appreciation of FCR beyond current approaches that are often limited to basic quantification or presence/absence reporting. The recontextualization of FCR proposed in this dissertation could lead scholars investigating hunter-gatherer sites worldwide to a better understanding of the ancient diets and behaviors associated with food production and site formation processes.


The Introduction of Havana-Hopewell in West Michigan and Northwest Indiana: An Integrative Approach to the Identification of Communities, Interaction Networks, and Mobility Patterns

by Jeff Chivis
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Michigan State University
May 2016

This research examines approximately 500 Middle Woodland (~150 B.C. – A.D. 400) pottery samples from 56 habitation and burial mound sites in west Michigan and northwest Indiana to identify the different types of mechanisms that were associated with the introduction and persistence of Havana-Hopewellian information and ceramic technology in the study region. It achieves this by fusing stylistic pottery analyses with compositional (i.e., ceramic petrography) analyses to define the social boundaries of different types of communities on multiple spatial scales.

The results have provided insight into the complex and dynamic types of cultural interactions and mobility patterns operating within the study region, the distinct behavioral patterns unique to each individual community, and the assortment of mechanisms responsible for the spread and maintenance of Havana-Hopewell. Mechanisms identified in this research include diffusion, fission, migration, family visitation, the likely frequent intermarriage between communities, the seasonal use or scheduling of resource use within buffer zones, territorial expansion, pilgrimage, potential community merger, down-the- line exchange, the likely exchange of food and other material goods, and a shared multi-community mortuary program. The results ultimately suggest that social boundaries on both local and regional spatial scales were open, fluid, and probably unbounded.


Lithic Analysis and Spatial Patterning at the Bremer Site (21DK06), Dakota County, Minnesota.

by Mara Taft
Masters Thesis Abstract
University of Minnesota
May 2015

The purpose of this study was to conduct a lithic and spatial analysis of the Bremer Site (21DK06), Dakota County, Minnesota in order to better understand how lithic tools and raw materials were curated at the site, what lithic activities took place at the site, what raw materials were present, and if these raw materials were differentially used. Providing answers to these questions will greatly increase our understanding of the Bremer site, its inhabitants, and their role in the region.

These questions are addressed by many different analyses. The results of the chipping debris analysis demonstrate the differential use of raw materials by locality and quality at the Bremer site. Locally available Prairie du Chien chert was the primary material used at the site, yet non-local materials had a large presence there, as well, indicating trade of raw materials throughout the region. Additionally, materials were preferentially chosen based on quality and texture. This indicates a non-random selection of materials based on quality for bifacial tool creation.

Two distinctive cultural horizons were identified through the vertical stratigraphy of artifacts within Block 1 with observable differentiations in raw material availability and use. These results indicate cultural differences through time represented in the lithic artifacts and an increase in trade and cultural contact over time at the same site.

The horizontal artifact distributions and activity areas at the site were identified through a spatial analysis of the site. This analysis also indicated a division of knapping events by raw material type and by artifact type over space. These studies and results increase our knowledge of the inhabitants of the Bremer site, their lifeways and site occupation, and their relationship to the larger region in which they lived.

Links: http://search.proquest.com/docview/1725136595
http://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/174724


Late Prehistoric Lithic Economies in the Prairie Peninsula: A Comparison of Oneota and Langford in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

by Stephen Wayne Wilson
Masters Thesis Abstract
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2016

This thesis is an examination of the environmental settlement patterns and the organization of lithic technology surrounding Upper Mississippian groups in Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. The sites investigated in this study are the Washington Irving (11K52) and Koshkonong Creek Village (47JE379) habitation sites, contemporaneous creekside Langford and Oneota sites located approximately 90 kilometers apart. A two-kilometer catchment of Washington Irving is compared to that of the Koshkonong Creek Village to clarify the nature of environmental variation in Langford and Oneota settlement patterns and increase our understanding of Upper Mississippian horticulturalist lifeways. Lithic tool and mass debitage analyses use an assemblage-based approach to understand the lithic economies at each site, accounting for procurement and manufacturing strategies and assemblage diversity and complexity.


The Prehistoric Economics of the Kautz Site: a Late Archaic and Woodland Site in Northeastern Illinois

by Peter John Geraci
Masters Thesis Abstract
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2016

The Kautz Site (11DU1) is a multi-component archaeological site located in the DuPage River Valley in northeastern Illinois. It was inhabited at least six different times between the Late Archaic and Late Woodland periods ca. 6000-1000 B.P. The site was excavated over the course of three field seasons between 1958 and 1961, but the results were never made public. This thesis seeks to document the archaeology of the Kautz Site in order to better understand the site’s economic history. An environmental catchment analysis was conducted to evaluate the level of time and energy needed to acquire important resources like water, food, wood, and chert. A macroscopic analysis of the lithic assemblage provided information about the lithic economy at the site. The results of the landscape analysis suggest that the site was located in an economically efficient location, however the macroscopic analysis suggests that a source of raw materials for chipped stone tools was not easily accessible and as a result the inhabitants practiced a number of common adaptive strategies to cope with resource scarcity.


Mississippian Community-Making through Everyday Items at Kincaid Mounds

by Tamira K. Brennan
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
May 2014

This work is all about things. It is about the role that those things play in the human experience, and what they offer to us as archaeologists, whose job is to provide a glimpse into the lives of past peoples. I discuss the things of the past from the theoretical stance of materiality, which assures us that the past is accessible despite the fragmentary nature of its physical remains. This is so because the physical world – objects, landscapes, and space – are imbued with meaning through our interactions with and experiences of them, be they overt and intentional or subconscious and in the background of our active lives. Repeated engagement with the physical world creates habits, memories, and histories and inscribes the social processes that created them upon the tangible world in ways that allow us to interpret the lives of the people with whom we have no direct interaction or accounts.

I use this theory to explore the southern Illinois site of Kincaid Mounds during the latter portion of its Mississippian period occupation, with a focus on how community was constructed and maintained within and through time. I do so using evidence from the non-discursive aspects of ceramic and architectural manufacture under the assumption that the methods of producing these items are habituated and thus reveal communities of learning. I consider contextual evidence to determine what other factors may have been at play in the production of these goods. With statistical analyses, I explore the variation in the way things were made between several spatially discrete neighborhoods at Kincaid Mounds, and discuss those results in terms of the making and manipulation or maintenance of community at this pre-Columbian center, followed by a narrative history of the Middle and Late Kincaid phases. I contrast these finds with those of communities within two other Middle Mississippian regions, Greater Cahokia and the Central Illinois River Valley, in order to discuss the variable processes that led diverse and unique communities to participate in a much broader, imagined Mississippian community.


Vertebrate Evidence for Diet and Food-processing at the Multicomponent Finch Site (47 JE-0902) in Jefferson County, Southeastern Wisconsin

by Zachary R. Stencil
Masters Thesis Abstract
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2015

The focus of this study is the intrasite analysis of the vertebrate faunal assemblage from the Finch Site. The Finch Site (47JE-0902) is located in Jefferson County, southeastern Wisconsin, roughly one mile east from Lake Koshkonong’s southeastern shoreline and the Rock River drainage. Stratigraphy and diagnostic artifacts from numerous cultural features indicate that the site was repeatedly occupied over a temporal span of several thousand years including Paleoindian, Archaic, and Woodland periods. Faunal remains were recovered from 169 excavated units and 119 cultural features across the full horizontal extent of the site.

Investigations of faunal remains from archaeological sites can yield interpretations about prehistoric diet, resource acquisition strategies, food processing, and site function. The multicomponent nature of the Finch site assemblage offers an exceptional opportunity to analyze and explore possible chronological shifts in diet and resource utilization at a single locale. This thesis focuses on the following questions. What vertebrate resources were utilized by occupants of the Finch site? Does vertebrate resource use change through time? What evidence is there for food processing at the site? Does food processing intensity change through time? Where is vertebrate resource use identified spatially at the Finch site? Does vertebrate use change spatially through time?

The total sample analyzed consists of 14,544 vertebrate remains collected from a combination of dry-screen, water-screen, and flotation recovery techniques. Temporal comparisons are made between proveniences using vertebrate class-level identifications. Species level identifications are used in an attempt to identify the season of occupation for the site. A Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis is applied to taxonomic identifications, fragmentation data, and categories of burned bone to investigate differences in the spatial and temporal utilization of the site and to identify patterning in food processing.


“…A Thousand Beads to Each Nation:” Exchange, Interactions, and Technological Practices in the Upper Great Lakes c. 1630-1730

by Heather Walder
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Wisconsin - Madison
2015

This dissertation addresses the timing of the introduction, exchange, and social implications of two complementary lines of evidence, reworked copper and brass objects and glass trade beads, from 38 archaeological sites of the Upper Great Lakes region dated to c. 1630 to 1730. In this situation of intercultural contact and colonialism, local Midwestern Native peoples encountered European-made trade items, displaced Native newcomers, and eventually non-Native explorers, traders, and missionaries. Anthropological questions of regional interaction, technological continuity and change, long-distance trade, and population mobility are the focus of this project, which has identified material correlates for the chronology and scope of socially-structured exchange networks that facilitated intercultural interaction.

I applied elemental characterization and attribute analysis methods that revealed how long-standing technological practices, such as native copper-working, persisted through time and what techniques people developed to adapt to new materials, allowing me to build inferences about the social significance of these technologies. Laser Ablation – Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) was used to identify the “recipes” of 874 glass adornments, which revealed chronological change in glass-making technology in Europe and Native glass reworking methods in North America. A portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) pilot study and physical attribute analysis of 3,705 copper-base metal artifacts such as beads, tinkling cones, other ornaments, partially worked blanks, and waste products revealed patterns in types and styles of finished objects, the mean size of discarded materials, and continuity of technological practice over time. The project verified pXRF as a viable technique for differentiating native and smelted copper without any cleaning of corroded artifacts.

Conducting new laboratory-based analyses on previously excavated artifacts has enhanced the value of existing collections and highlights the importance of long-term curation strategies for artifacts as well as associated excavation records, maps, and other primary documentation of provenience information and recovery methods. Together, metal and glass analyses demonstrated that the diverse peoples inhabiting the Upper Great Lakes region accessed different quantities and kinds of trade items, and that the trade items themselves and technological methods applied to them varied through time, across space, and according to the historically-attributed ethnic identity of communities.


The Impact of Migration on Community Identity in the Seventeenth Century in the Great Lakes

by Megan Marie McCullen
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Michigan State University

This dissertation uses archaeological and historical data to examine the impact that migration had on community identity among the Wendat communities that moved into the western Great Lakes during the second half of the seventeenth century. Research on contemporary displaced peoples has shown that migration and resettlement processes put severe stress on communities, which can lead to community identity transformation. One particularly unique case is that of a diaspora community, dispersed over several regions and maintaining a distinct emotional link to their homeland. In this research, an archaeological model for recognizing diaspora communities and distinguishing them from other forced migrant groups is developed. This model is rooted in theories of migration, ethnicity and identity and uses Rockman’s model of colonization barriers as a basis for its creation. This model is applied to the migration of the Wendat people who collectively resettled from Southern Ontario into the western Great Lakes during the seventeenth century. Archaeological and historical data associated with five archaeological sites, two in Southern Ontario and three in the western Great Lakes, are analyzed. This data set allows for a diachronic analysis of the long-term impacts of migration, which is not often available to cultural anthropologists. Two main archaeological data sets are analyzed to understand resettlement practices and identity. First, symbolic materials are analyzed. Ceramics, pipes and carved faunal materials are all malleable objects on which individuals can create and modify semiotic systems to reflect their sense of identity. Changes in these materials diachronically and spatially are evaluated using a Brainerd Robinson coefficient of similarity. Secondly, lithic resources at settlement sites are analyzed to determine knowledge of local resources and access to high quality materials as an indicator of social networks and local knowledge. These two datasets are then combined with the ethnohistoric data to evaluate the applicability of Safran’s six characteristics of diasporic communities in the case of the western Wendat. I conclude that this community does indeed reflect a diasporic community. While data suggests that accommodation and integration into local networks in the resettlement area was practiced initially following dispersal, a reassertion of Wendat identity followed. This corresponds to a period of increased stability and reduced hostility from 1670-1701.
 


Oneota Ceramic Production and Exchange: Social, Economic, and Political Interactions In Eastern Wisconsin Between A.D. 1050 - 1400

by Seth Allen Schneider
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
2015

The time between A. D. 1050 – 1400 is a period of dynamic cultural change in the Western Great Lakes region. During this time period in eastern Wisconsin three distinct and contemporary cultural groups are present: Oneota, Middle Mississippian, and Late Woodland. Many studies have focused on the origins, presence and interaction between these groups. Six Oneota pottery assemblages from three geospatially distinct localities in eastern Wisconsin are examined: Koshkonong, Grand River, and Waupaca localities. Pottery assemblages from two sites in each locality were selected for comparison to determine interlocality social, political, and economic interaction. Ceramic attribute and compositional analyses were conducted and the results utilized to identify and characterize the amount of variation between the ceramic assemblages. Compositional analyses consisted of portable energy dispersive X-ray flourcesnce (ED-XRF) and ceramic petrography.

Three theoretical interaction models, World-Systems Analysis, Peer Polity Interaction, and Tribalization, are discussed and evaluated as possible models for Oneota interaction. These interaction models examine the roles and level of economic, political, and social interaction through trade, coercive force (military), and transmission of social and ideological information between groups.

The results of the analysis indicate both the creation of identity markers within localities and interaction between localities. The data indicates that some groups interacted more than others. Grooved paddle surface treatment in the Koshkonong locality, crimping of the lip of vessels in the Waupaca and Grand River localities, and variations in decorative motifs demonstrate that the localities used these markers for group identity. The ceramic petrographic analysis indicates that the groups shared knowledge of pottery manufacturing with similar percentages of matrix, sand, and temper in the recipe. The ED-XRF analysis indicates that pottery from the Bornick site is more similar to pottery from sites in the Waupaca locality, while the pottery from the Walker-Hooper site is more similar to pottery from sites in the Koshkonong locality.

During this time, the Oneota groups in eastern Wisconsin practiced patrilocal post-marital residence patterns suggesting that women moved from their family’s to their husband's residence, bringing their knowledge of pottery making with them. Social and political alliances through interlocality marriages took place based on the presence of group identity markers on pottery from one locality seen on vessels in another. Kinship (fictive and real) relationships between localities were created from these alliances that assisted in maintaining territorial boundaries and leadership positions to generate social-surplus to gain prestige and provided means of assistance in times of scarcity.


Late Woodland settlement and subsistence in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan

by Sean Barron Dunham
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Michigan State University
2014

This research revisits the debate surrounding Late Woodland subsistence practices in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Late Woodland period in the Upper Great Lakes region (ca. A.D. 600 to 1600) is often characterized through models emphasizing the intensive use of a single, primary key resource, particularly maize, fall spawning fish, or wild rice. For example, current Late Woodland subsistence models for northern Michigan focus on the intensive harvest, creation of surplus, and consequent storage of fall spawning fish as the cornerstone of the settlement and subsistence strategy. New data suggests that the dominant settlement and subsistence model is incomplete, lacks explanatory value, and requires revision. This study tests the hypothesis that a suite of potential resources was both present and utilized, allowing for a more flexible set of strategies, i.e. one based upon multiple rather than a single primary resource. Archaeological evidence, ethnographic data, and pilot study results reveal that acorns, maize, and wild rice are likely resources to be incorporated into such a strategy; all can be harvested and stored in the late summer or fall as a buffer against a poor fish harvest. Each, however, also has spatial, environmental, and temporal constraints with implications bearing on archaeological site locations as well as the evidence from the sites themselves.

A spatial analysis of site locations and resource distributions, as well as the composition of site assemblages was conducted to determine what relationships, if any, can be found between resources and site locations. The results identified site location patterns relating to the exploitation of fish as well the potential use of wild rice and acorns, and also revealed changing patterns of site location over time including an emphasis on coastal settings in the early Late Woodland and an increase in interior setting sites in the late Late Woodland. In addition, the study examines strategies for subsistence risk buffering and decision making by Late Woodland peoples and provides new perspectives on resource scheduling, patterns of mobility, social organization, and social interaction.

The nature of the data sets employed in the research, as well as the temporal and spatial scales involved led to the adoption of Resilience Theory as an organizing framework for this study. The application of Resilience Theory is relatively new in archaeology and in this case provides a useful contribution to this line of scholarship in a context which has need of greater theoretical diversity. While an important outcome of the research is a synthesis of our current understanding of the regional Late Woodland, it also contributes a robust understanding of the interaction of hunter-gatherers/marginal horticulturalists with their environment.


Transforming Material Relationships: 13th Century Revitalization of Cahokian Religious-Politics

by Melissa Baltus
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
May 2014

The rise and eventual decline of Cahokia, the largest pre-Columbian city north of Mexico, reverberated deeply within the historical trajectories of the North American mid-continent and southeast. The 11th century emergence of this multi-ethnic, multi-vocal metropolis appears to have been deeply entangled within a social-religious movement that spread rapidly throughout the region. By A.D. 1100, however, that initial movement seems to have become highly politicized. This increased politicization occurred shortly before an outbreak of violence throughout the mid-continent around A.D. 1150. The transition from the 12th to the 13th century is marked by rapid large scale changes to spaces and objects that were part of the 12th century Cahokian religious-politics.

Archaeological evidence from two thirteenth century villages in the uplands outside of Cahokia, the Olin and Copper sites, supports the supposition that these changes were intentional and targeted toward highly politicized Cahokian “elite” spaces and objects. At the same time, people maintained and/or re-integrated other practices, objects, and buildings reminiscent of the early Cahokian movement, with an increased emphasis on inclusivity. These changes suggest perhaps something akin to a revitalization movement – an intentional, material push for change – led to the return of certain religious practices, and production of their related objects, to the hands of local communities. Objects and spaces typically associated with warfare or violence, specifically fortifications, compounds, and imagery of warfare, appeared in conjunction with these changes. Given the timing and location of these materials of violence, they appear to be part of the 13th century revitalization movement in the American Bottom region.

These two upland sites, Olin and Copper, demonstrate clearly different practices and regional relationships, indicating that people living at these sites were maintaining a certain amount of autonomy while participating within this revitalized Cahokian religious sphere. This decentralization of certain practices and material objects may have occurred at the expense of disentangling the social-political-religious relationships and obligations that may have tied these local communities to each other and to Cahokia. Furthermore, the material aspects of violence that appear during the 12th century to 13th century transformation form key elements of the so-called Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC) that spread throughout the greater southeast.


A Chronology for Warfare in the Mississippian Period (AD 1000-1500)

by Tony Krus
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
Indiana University
2013

This dissertation investigates the origins and causes of warfare during the Mississippian Period (AD 1000-1500) in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Mississippian peoples shared similar religious beliefs and practiced maize-based agriculture subsistence. They also built bastioned palisades, which are considered archaeological indicators of regional hostility, to defend their towns. Mississippian scholars have divergent opinions about the causes and timing of warfare, but generally agree that the two primary motivations were to control economic resources and to gain political status. Bastioned palisades serve as a proxy measure for the intensification of organized warfare, complexity of military organization, and other aspects of warfare. This dissertation applies Bayesian statistical analyses of stratigraphic and absolute age data to model when palisades were constructed.  Through such an analysis, several broadly accepted propositions about Mississippian warfare are evaluated.

The sample in this study includes nine Mississippian settlements in the Midwest and Southeast, four of which are the largest and most culturally influential towns in the region. This is an adequate sample for understanding the trends and history of warfare in the region. The results of chronological models for palisade building indicate that bastioned palisades were built primarily in the late Mississippian period. This reflects advances in Mississippian military technology and a rise in warfare intensity after AD 1250. Intensified warfare appears largely to have been spurred by diminished resource control and a climate of political instability, suggesting that economic resource control was likely the main reason for Mississippian warfare.


The Construction of a Mound and a New Community: An Analysis of the Ceramic and Feature Assemblages from the Northeast Mound at the Aztalan Site

by Thomas J. Zych
Masters Thesis Abstract
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2013

By the start of the 12th century A.D., the Aztalan site in southeastern Wisconsin was home to Middle Mississippian immigrants from the south and local Late Woodland residents. The amalgamated population coexisted, maintained defensive works, and constructed earthen monuments in the spirit of Middle Mississippian mound construction. One mound, located within the domestic complex of the site in the northeast corner of the palisaded area, was the focus of Wisconsin Historical Society excavations during the 1960s. This thesis utilizes the unreported results of these investigations to highlight the social implication resulting from the prehistoric construction of Aztalan's northeast platform mound. Results demonstrate the Late Woodland sub-mound space was transformed into a Middle Mississippian monument not by means of coercion or cooptation, but rather through socially integrative practices creating a space that symbolized a new pluralistic community unique to Aztalan and the multiple social groups involved.

View a copy (pdf) of this thesis.


Effigy Mounds, Social Identity, and Ceramic Technology: Decorative Style, Clay Composition, and Petrography of Wisconsin Late Woodland Vessels

by Jody Clauter
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
December 2012

This ceramic analysis is focused on a combination of technical and decorative analyses involving energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) and petrographic data unused by or unavailable to previous researchers. The ceramics used in this study are non-collared forms of Late Woodland (AD 700 - 1200) types found across southern Wisconsin. Ceramic attributes from these data sets are analyzed using multi-variate statistical methods and the resulting clusters are plotted geographically. Results indicate regionalization of particular attributes with a major east-west trend noted in some cases. However, geographical plotting shows broad overlap among river valleys and locales. Importantly, EDXRF data demonstrates that ceramics or clays were transported across the landscape.

The results are used to assess three models commonly used to explain Late Woodland group spatial distribution and interaction: Monolithic, Low-level Territorial, and High-level Territorial. However, while it is argued the Low-level Territorial model best represents the data, the ceramic attributes indicate that multiple types of social organizations were practiced over space and time during the Late Woodland and that multiple territorial models are necessary to fully understand the social interactions occurring during this period.

Finally, it is hypothesized that these results are best approached from a performance perspective where the social organization provides a contextual basis for investigating the daily performance of pottery making. Pottery manufacture is used to assess the constant making and re-making of social relationships at multiple levels of interaction in an egalitarian setting. It is hypothesized that different suites of attributes reflect different levels of group membership and that potters are consciously selecting attributes to negotiate these nested relationships through the practice of pottery construction.


Oneota Lithics: A Use-Wear Analysis of the Crescent Bay Hunt Club Assemblage from the 2004 Excavations

by Katherine M. Sterner
Masters Thesis Abstract
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2012

The lithic assemblage from the Crescent Bay Hunt Club site (47Je904), an Oneota habitation on the shore of Lake Koshkonong in Southeastern Wisconsin provides valuable insight into 13th-14th century material culture and technology in the Great Lakes.  This study examines materials from the 2004 UWM field school excavations at the site. The analysis first addresses the topics of resource procurement, tool assemblage complexity and diversity, and energetic efficiency, with information derived from a macroscopic analysis of the lithic tools and mass analysis of the debitage.  A combination of low power (10-50x) and high power (200x) microscopic use-wear analyses address issues of tool form and function, including traditional categories of Madison points, humpback bifaces, and thumbnail scrapers as well as the rarely examined class of unretouched flake tools.


Geoarchaeology in the Current River Valley, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Southeast Missouri

by Erin C. Dempsey
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
University of Kansas
August 2012

On the Ozark Plateau, human occupation spanning the last 11,500 14C yr B.P. is well documented in the archaeological record.  Recently, geoarchaeological investigations have been conducted in the reach of the Current River valley contained within Ozark National Scenic Riverways (NSR).  The current study was conducted in an effort to establish a geoarchaeological model for Ozark NSR.  Alluvial stratigraphy, particle-size distribution data, and optically stimulated luminescence ages were used to investigate late-Quaternary landscape evolution and model the geologic preservation potential for cultural deposits. Stable carbon isotope data were used to reconstruct paleoenvironmental change during the late Pleistocene and Holocene.


The Social Networks of Early Hunter-Gatherers in Midcontinental North America

by Andrew A. White
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
University of Michigan
September 2012

This dissertation integrates ethnographic information and computational modeling to build theory about hunter-gatherer social networks and the relationships between the characteristics of those networks and patterns of variability in material culture.  Key mechanisms of personal network formation (mobility, marriage, and kinship) and social learning are represented in an agent-based model which allows both system-level social networks and large-scale patterns of artifact variability to emerge from the “bottom up” through numerous human-level behaviors and interactions.  This model is used to: (1) identify patterned relationships between the human-level behaviors that we can observe ethnographically and the characteristics of the system-level social networks that emerge through those behaviors; and (2) explore how the characteristics of system-level social networks are related to the patterns of variability in items of material culture whose production is mediated through those networks.  Comparisons between archaeological artifact assemblages and artifact assemblages produced during model experiments are used to evaluate network-based explanations for the appearance and disappearance of stylistic regions during the Paleoindian and Early Archaic periods (ca. 11,050-8000 radiocarbon years before present) in midcontinental North America.  These comparisons suggest that the appearance of stylistic regions during the Middle and Late Paleoindian periods was most likely the result of processes of stylistic drift operating across social networks that were less inter-connected than those of the Early Paleoindian period.  Decreasing social connectivity across the midcontinent was probably related to an uneven distribution of population as hunter-gatherer individuals, groups, and systems responded to environmental change at the end of the Pleistocene.  Population growth and the emergence of relatively homogenous environments at the beginning of the Holocene (ca. 10,000 radiocarbon years before present) would have increased social connectivity and diminished the capacity of drift processes to produce stylistically differentiated regions.


An Archaeological Model of the Construction of Monks Mound and Implications for the Development of the Cahokian Society (800 - 1400 A.D.)

by Timothy Schilling
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
Washington University in St. Louis
December 2010

This dissertation presents a model for the development of Cahokian society through the lens of monumental construction. Previous models of Cahokian society have emphasized the accumulation of individual power and domination of the many by a few. Using analogies from the ethnography and ethnohistory of Dhegian Siouan speakers, I argue the Cahokian system likely contained both achieved and ascribed statuses mediated through a worldview that emphasized balance and integration of the whole. In the face of a growing population, this kind of structural organization may have precluded the development of class conflict and, at the same time, permitted the development of large-scale societies. The analysis of monumental construction focuses primarily on the construction of Monks Mound. Through a combination of stratigraphic and chronometric data, the construction of Monks Mound is argued to be a definable and discrete event in the history of Cahokia. In this view, Monks Mound is a ritual vehicle created to integrate a large population.


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