Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts

Mississippian Period Mortuary Practices in the Central Illinois River Valley: A Region-Wide Survey and Analysis

by Michael Strezewski
Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Anthropology
Indiana University-Bloomington
Defended: August 2003

This dissertation is a survey and analysis of largely unreported data on prehistoric burial practices in the central Illinois River valley, in Fulton County, Illinois. The data originate from six Mississippian period (A.D. 1050-1450) mortuary sites, comprising a total sample of approximately 500 individuals. Theoretically, I approach mortuary studies with a recognition of the multi-dimensional nature of death and burial. Thus, social organization as well as cosmological and belief-based factors play significant analytical roles. The data show that both men and women had access to positions of authority in Mississippian society, though higher-ranking men outnumber women by a factor of 4 to 1. Status was displayed via similar artifacts for both sexes, suggesting that some of these items may represent regalia for particular offices. Children less than 8 years old were interred with a number of artifacts that were only infrequently found with older individuals. This may indicate that a new social status was conferred upon children at about this age. Many adult women were interred with lithic items placed at the hand. Ethnohistoric evidence suggests that this practice may be a reflection of a belief in a perilous afterlife journey. Overall, the frequency of grave goods increases after AD 1300. This trend coincides with the influx of extra-local migrants into the central Illinois valley. Greater social stress caused by this in-migration may have led to enhanced wealth display among Mississippian groups, with a concomitant increase in the inclusion of weaponry with adult males. Finally, analysis of mortuary-related features at the Morton site suggests that mound construction was arranged after the Native American belief in the division of the universe into Upper and Lower Worlds. This acted as a means to establish links to a sacred order, legitimize tribal organization, and sustain links to the ancestors.


Oneota Subsistence in SE Wisconsin: Agriculture and Plant Domestication at the Crescent Bay Hunt Club Site

by M. Lee Olsen
Abstract of Masters Thesis 
Department of Anthropology 
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 
2003

The Crescent Bay Hunt Club (CBHC) site along Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, is a Developmental phase Oneota site with a rich floral assemblage including carbonized seeds such as wild-rice, chenopod, maize, squash, and tobacco. This study is an analysis of seed morphology to determine whether the occupants at Lake Koshkonong cultivated or exploited wild indigenous seeds, and to compare the floral remains and subsistence base with contemporary Upper Mississippian sites. The study shows that the Crescent Bay Hunt Club inhabitants were mainly gatherers of indigenous starchy seeds, but then also cultivated maize and cucurbits to supplement their use of wild-rice and chenopods, including the Chenopodium berlandieri complex of the Cellulata subsection. The plant assemblage at CBHC is consistent with earlier Late Woodland subsistence, the eastern agricultural complex, and contemporary occupations with similar aquatic environments. The tobacco of Crescent Bay, however, does not appear to belong to the eastern tobacco group.


Late Woodland Cultural Complexity in Southeastern Wisconsin: A Ceramic Analysis from the Klug (47OZ26) and Klug Island (47OZ67) Sites

by Jody Clauter
Abstract of Masters Thesis 
Department of Anthropology 
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 
2003

The focus of this thesis is the utility of cultural history taxa, the problems with placing Wisconsin Late Woodland sites within a Horicon or Kekoskee phase description, and a discussion of the broad range of attributes that are subsumed within some Late Woodland ceramic type varieties, especially Point Sauble Collared and Hahn Cord Impressed. Both attribute and typological analysis were undertaken. Emphasis was given to finding associations between collection area and ceramic type varieties, decorative elements, and morphologic traits.

Ceramics from the Klug (47Oz26) and Klug Island (47Oz67) sites were documented and analyzed. These sites were Late Woodland occupation dating to 1 sigma cal. AD 440 to 600 at the Klug site, and 1 sigma cal. AD 1000 to 1190 at Klug Island. Ceramics were found in a variety of surface collection areas and excavation units across the sites. The separate collections were grouped as a larger Klug Complex assemblage for reasons that include geographic spread of material culture and ceramic distribution across collection area boundaries.

Results of S tests, Chi-square, and Classification and Regression Tree analysis suggest that certain ceramic types correspond with collection area, and that these divisions may have temporal implications. However, only some of the decorative elements and morphologic traits accurately predict placement of a vessel type within a collection area, which implies that as type varieties changed over time, certain aspects of pottery production remain constant.

The ceramic variability exhibited at the Klug Complex may be too broad for some standard type variety definitions. Also, the Klug Complex strongly suggests that the Kekoskee or Horicon phase are not sufficient archaeological taxa. Rather, the ceramic data set is only fully understood when discussed as part of dynamic cultural trends through time.


Description and Analysis of Preserved Fabrics from the Northwest Mound at Aztalan: A Late Prehistoric Site in Southeastern Wisconsin

by Theresa Johnsen
Abstract of Masters Thesis 
Department of Anthropology 
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 
2003

The remains of charred fabrics including twined textiles and woven or interlaced bulrush matting were recovered in 1954 from the Northwest Mound at Aztalan. As a foundation for future study, the fabrics are described, the number of fabrics is estimated and where possible, function is identified. Several methods for observing and collecting of data are explored. Scanning electron microscopy was used to identify some of the plant materials employed in the manufacture of the fabrics. A C14 date of 940 BP ± 60 was obtained from a sample of charred matting. The cordage has a base structure of S twist Z spin. Textiles are mostly open spaced weft twined and the matting is interlaced cord and bulrush. These fabrics appear to be functional with out apparent embellishment. The early radiocarbon date, along with the structure of the cordage and the associated archaeological context suggests a Mississippian affiliation for the textiles.


An Intensive Surface Collection and Intrasite Spatial Analysis of the Archaeological Materials from the Coy Mound Site (3LN20), Central Arkansas

by William Glenn Hill
Western Michigan University
2003

Surface recovered materials from the Coy Mound site (3LN20), Lonoke County Arkansas, are utilized in order to address questions regarding temporal occupations, resource utilization, internal site configuration, and the socio-political organization of the Baytown-Coles Creek period Plum Bayou culture. Distribution plots revealed a mound-plaza site configuration in addition to potential domestic and off-mound midden deposits. While the site organizational plan has implications for a hierarchical socio-political organization, the absence of inter- and intrasite variability in ceramic types and lithic materials support the hypothesis that limited social differentiation was present in Plum Bayou culture and that control over resources was weak.


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