Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts

Creating the Cahokian Community: The Power of Place in Early Mississippian Sociopolitical Dynamics

by Alleen Betzenhauser
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
2011

This study is an examination of how sociopolitical change occurs, particularly the formation of large scale polities from culturally diverse populations. Drawing on Benedict Anderson’s concept of “imagined communities” and recent developments in archaeological theory, particularly agency and practice theory, I contend that the social construction of space and community identities at multiple scales were instrumental in the creation of the Cahokia polity in the American Bottom region of southwestern Illinois around A.D. 1050. 

In this study, I employ a multi-scalar perspective that includes detailed analyses of material culture, architecture, and spatial organization at five sites located in the American Bottom floodplain near the monumental Mississippian site of Cahokia. All five sites include occupations dating to the Mississippian Transition (A.D. 975–1100) which spans the Terminal Late Woodland Lindeman and Edelhardt phases (A.D. 1000–1050) and the early Mississippian Lohmann phase (A.D. 1050–1100). The mapping, geophysical survey, excavation, and material analyses for each of these sites combined with regional comparisons using a Geographic Information System provide evidence for changes in the construction of space, movement of people into and around the region, and the simultaneous dissolution of local communities and the construction of a large–scale community identity centered on Cahokia.


Plainview Lithic Technology and the Late Paleoindian Social Organization in the Western Great Lakes

by Daniel M. Winkler
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2011

The following dissertation is focused upon use of Plainview lithic technology as represented by lithic debitage and tools at the Dalles site (47IA374) and the Kelly North Tract at Carcajou Point (47JE02) in southern Wisconsin.  This work takes an assemblage approach to understanding the structure of the lithic economy in use at these sites.  The primary reason to examine not only tools, but the broader aspects of lithic reduction strategies at this site is to examine Paleoindian mobility, site structure, household makeup, and ritual in the western Great Lakes during the early Holocene (circa 8600 B.P.).  Since very few sites from this period have been scientifically excavated in the western Great Lakes, the Dalles site and the Kelly North Tract offer an opportunity to provide useful information about the lithic economies of these groups.

The Dalles site was excavated and reported by Overstreet et al. 2005.  Investigations at the site yielded diagnostic artifacts and dates from an occupation assignable to the Plainview tradition.  The site is located in an environment containing abundant lithic resources, including cobbles and pebbles of Galena chert found in a streambed crosscutting the site.   The Kelly North Tract was excavated and reported on by Jeske et al. (2002 and 2003).  The site also contained diagnostic Plainview artifacts.  The site is located in a chert poor environment, with sporadic pebbles and cobbles of chert contained within the glacial till in the region.  Current studies in the western Great Lakes have focused on the hafted bifaces and tools produced by groups at the late Pleistocene/early Holocene transition.  In contrast, this dissertation is focused on the structure of the lithic economy, based on the debitage from the Dalles site and the Kelly North Tract using multiple lithic schemes including mass analysis and individual debitage analysis to determine how Plainview groups in the western Great Lakes created, modified, and maintained their tool kits in different environments.


Oneota and Langford Mortuary Practices from Eastern Wisconsin and Northeast Illinois

by Kathleen M. Foley Winkler
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2011

The following dissertation is a comparative analysis of mortuary practices displayed by two archaeological cultures: Oneota and Langford.  The Oneota Tradition is a manifestation of Upper Mississippian concentrated in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota that lasted from approximately AD 1050-1450, while the Langford Tradition is concentrated in northeast Illinois, and lasted from approximately A.D. 1100-1450. Previous research identified two broad burial programs for Developmental Horizon Oneota in southeast Wisconsin (Foley Winkler 2004).  This dissertation expands upon the preceding study by incorporating additional data from southeast Wisconsin and data from Oneota and Langford sites in northeast Illinois.

Burial data are used to make inferences about the social, political, and economic structures represented by Langford and Oneota archaeological cultures.  In particular, culture contact, boundary maintenance and violence across the northern edge of the Prairie Peninsula are examined using mortuary and related data among the sites.  Analysis was conducted on the burial practices and skeletal remains from the Crescent Bay Hunt Club, Schmeling, Wild Rose Mounds, Calumetville, Walker-Hooper, Pipe and Zimmerman sites, and using literature on the Carcajou Point, Gentleman Farm, Robinson Reserve, Oakwood Mound, Material Service Quarry, and Hoxie Farm sites.

It was expected that 1. The mortuary programs for Oneota were different from those of Langford 2. Oneota in Wisconsin were settled in a more stable political and social milieu as contrasted with the marked conflict and violence associated with Langford sites; and 3.  Oneota society was more egalitarian than Langford.  The results demonstrate that Oneota and Langford mortuary programs do vary, however variation appears greater between all the sites than between the two cultures.  Distinctions in burial programs reflect cultural variation which is correlated with regional environmental adaptations within the larger Prairie Peninsula.  Both Oneota and Langford exhibit egalitarian socio-political structures and violence appears localized at sites in Illinois rather than widespread across the region.


Multi-Staged Analysis of the Reinhardt Village Community: A Fourteenth Century Central Ohio Community in Context

by Nolan, Kevin C.
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
Ohio State University
2010

Many reconstructions and models of the Late Prehistoric period in the Ohio Valley discuss changes in the structure and organization of primary habitations. These changes are often associated with changes in social organization, intra-community relationships, and socio-political complexity. It is also being increasingly recognized that typological Culture Historical narratives often over-simplify or misconstrue actual local trajectories. What is needed to both develop accurate historical narratives and test extant models is a very large sample of communities with a reconstructed organization pattern. Excavation is not an efficient way to increase the size of the known sample of community organization patterns; however, excavation is still the dominant method of archaeological investigation in the region. In this dissertation I illustrate a multi-staged approach to quickly reconstruct the structure of a given archaeological site (irrespective of time period) applied specifically to a Late Prehistoric community in the Middle Scioto Valley: the Reinhardt Village (33PI880). The approach used here begins with a suite of minimally invasive/destructive data-generation techniques (extensive surface survey, intensive surface survey, volumetric shovel testing, gradiometry, magnetic susceptibility, and soil phosphate) supplemented by excavation. The minimally invasive techniques provided most of the salient details regarding settlement structure and if employed iteratively in a regional survey could quickly increase the database to reconstruct local prehistory and test extant models. Specifically, the strategy employed at Reinhardt could be used to reconstruct 2 – 4 community structures in the typical field school, summer season. The results at the Reinhardt site reveal a small, late fourteenth century planned community. The Reinhardt community is organized around an open, oblong plaza oriented northeast-southwest with multiple activity areas roughly concentrically around the plaza. The Reinhardt community varies from a typical plan in that the activity zones are irregularly distributed around the plaza, with an isolated productive area south and outside of the concentric zones. The Reinhardt investigations add to the knowledge of variability of community structure for the Middle Ohio River Valley in general, but specifically for the Middle Late Prehistoric period of the Scioto River Valley. 


Oneota Settlement Patterns around Lake Koskonong in Southeast Wisconsin: An Environmental Catchment Analysis using GIS Modeling

by Richard W. Edwards IV
Masters Thesis Abstract
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
May 2010

An environmental catchment analysis was conducted to determine the nature of Oneota settlement patterns on the western shore of Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Previous studies have used coarse-grained analyses which have led to an over generalization of Oneota settlement patterns. This research uses a fine-grained analysis to elucidate the variation of Oneota village placement within the study area. Prehistoric vegetation patterns were recreated using the General Land Office Survey notes and soil data. Two kilometer catchments were drawn around four sites; Crescent Bay Hunt Club (47JE904), Schmeling (47JE833), Twin Knolls (47JE379), and the Carcajou Point (47JE002). Analysis of these catchments clarified the nature of environmental variation in Oneota settlement patterns, increasing our understanding of their overall lifeways.


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