The Eastern Woodlands II: The Terminal Archaic Transition

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The Eastern Woodlands II:
The Terminal Archaic
Transition
Lecture 21
North American Archaeology
Winter 2007
UCSC
The “Terminal Archaic”


2000-1000 BC
Series of Technological and Social
Innovations


Pottery--storage and cooking technology
Horticulture




Squash and Bottle Gourd
Local Complex of Weedy Annuals
Elaborate mortuary rituals and monuments
Expansion of local and regional economic
and social networks
Invention of Pottery in East

Fiber-Tempered Ware


2000-1700 BC
So. Atlantic Coast



Shell midden sites
Stallings Island,
Savannah River, GA
Thick, rounded or flatbottomed open bowls
w/ simple incised or
punctated decoration
Steatite Bowls


Widely traded throughout Mid-Atlantic and NE between
1700-1300 BC
Associated w/ more intensive use of seeds and nuts


Steatite-Tempered
Pottery
Marcey Creek Plain


1300 BC
Sassman: Male
status-building may
have resisted
development of
ceramics by women

Grit-Tempered Pottery





Vinette I Pottery
1000BC
Vinette I (NY)
Examples from Koster
Cord-marked, conical
bottom (typical Woodland
Tradition pottery)
More heat resistant-better for direct heat
cooking
The “Container Revolution”

Bruce Smith




Sedentary groups--need more storage, and/or
Direct heat cooking (boiling)
Associated with increased nut and seed
processing in Late Archaic
Alternative Hypothesis:

Early pottery as “prestige technology”--used
as special containers for preparing and
serving food at competitive feasts (“Big Men”)
Origins of Early Gardening
Complexes in East

Early Eastern Mexican
Complex



Early Sites




Squash (Curcurbita pepo)
Bottle gourd (Lagenaria
siceraria)
Koster (5000-4000 BC)
Bacon Bend (2100-2400
BC)
Phillips Spring (2000-2300
BC)
Natural spread or human
agents??
Eastern Agricultural Complex


Asch and Asch (1970s)
Complex of local weedy
annuals (“small grains”)




Sunflower, marshelder
(sumpweed)
goosefoot, maygrass,
knotweed, little barley
Propagated beyond
natural range
Some show genetic
changes (domestication)
by 2000 BC

Salts Cave, Newt Kash
Hallow
Why did “small grain” horticulture
develop in East?



Richard Ford
 Stress and competition
 Deliberately fostering spread of certain species
Bruce Smith
 Casual and opportunistic
 Sedentary settlements caused restructuring of floodplain
ecosystems
Kristen Gremillion
 “Small grains” abundant, dependable, and nutritious, but hard to
process
 Delay cost of processing by storing (caching)
 Supplement other foods, especially during Winter
Early Mound Complexes

Watson’s Brake (3900 BC)


NE Louisiana
11 mounds and oval enclosure
Poverty Point Site





2200 BC-1200 BC
Bayou Macon, LA
6 concentric ridges
High population density
Mound complexes




Mound A
Mound B
Motley Mound
Lower Jackson Mound
Charred remains of floor mats


Evidence of post and living debris on top of
embankments--houses??
600 houses = 3000 people??

Mound A (Bird Effigy?)

Mound B

Cremation burials

Typical Late Archaic subsistence
 Rich ecotone setting
 Hunted deer, small mammals, birds, fish
 Collected fruit, nuts, seeds
 Squash cultivation (and maybe weedy annuals)
 Fiber-temperd pottery, steatite bowls, earth ovens and Poverty Pt
objects

Fancy PPT Objects

Women’s status marker?

Plummets (fishing weights or bola stones)

Randomly distributed throughout site

Motley Points

Status symbols for high ranking warriors?

Microlithic technology for making jasper beads
Chiefly status symbols??

Clay figurines
Poverty Point Regional System

PPT site center of
regional system




LMV and Gulf Coast
100 sites, clustered
around 10 local
centers
Centers located at
strategic ecotones
Influence widespread
throughout SE
Was Poverty Point the center of a
complex regional chiefdom?

Jon Gibson (1974)




Organization of labor to build mounds
Distribution of high status items (Motley
Points, jasper beads, etc.)
Three-tier settlement hierarchy
Local centers located to control trade and
distribution of high-ranked resources
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