Nearly 2000 years ago, people living in the river valleys of southern Ohio built earthen monuments on a scale that is unmatched in the archaeological record for small-scale societies. The period from c. 200 BC to c. AD 500 (Early to Middle Woodland) witnessed the construction of mounds, earthen walls, ditches, borrow pits and other earthen and stone features covering dozen of hectares at many sites and hundreds of hectares at some. The development of the vast Hopewell Culture geometric earthwork complexes such as those at Mound City, Chilicothe; Hopewell; and the Newark earthworks was accompanied by the establishment of wide-ranging cultural contacts reflected in the movement of exotic and strikingly beautiful artefacts such as elaborate tobacco pipes, obsidian and chert arrowheads, copper axes and regalia, animal figurines and delicately carved sheets of mica. These phenomena, coupled with complex burial rituals, indicate the emergence of a political economy based on a powerful ideology of individual power and prestige, and the creation of a vast cultural landscape within which the monument complexes were central to a ritual cycle encompassing a substantial geographical area. The labour needed to build these vast cultural landscapes exceeds population estimates for the region, and suggests that people from near (and possibly far) travelled to the Scioto and other river valleys to help with construction of these monumental earthen complexes. Here, Mark Lynott draws on more than a decade of research and extensive new datasets to re-examine the spectacular and massive scale Ohio Hopewell landscapes and to explore the society that created them.
Wisconsin's thousands of effigy mounds and other ancient earthworks are a treasure of world civilization. This popular introduction for general readers, updated throughout with new archaeological findings and satellite imagery, answers the questions, Who built the mounds? When and why were they built? Where can they be viewed?
An authoritative and thoroughly accessible overview offarming and food practices at Cahokia Agriculture is rightly emphasized as the center of the economy in most studies of Cahokian society, but the focus is often predominantly on corn. This farming economy is typically framed in terms of ruling elites living in mound centers who demanded tribute and a mass surplus to be hoarded or distributed as they saw fit. Farmers are cast as commoners who grew enough surplus corn to provide for the elites. Feeding Cahokia: Early Agriculture in the North American Heartland presents evidence to demonstrate that the emphasis on corn has created a distorted picture of Cahokia’s agricultural practices. Farming at Cahokia was biologically diverse and, as such, less prone to risk than was maize-dominated agriculture. Gayle J. Fritz shows that the division between the so-called elites and commoners simplifies and misrepresents the statuses of farmers—a workforce consisting of adult women and their daughters who belonged to kin groups crosscutting all levels of the Cahokian social order. Many farmers had considerable influence and decision-making authority, and they were valued for their economic contributions, their skills, and their expertise in all matters relating to soils and crops. Fritz examines the possible roles played by farmers in the processes of producing and preparing food and in maintaining cosmological balance. This highly accessible narrative by an internationally known paleoethnobotanist highlights the biologically diverse agricultural system by focusing on plants, such as erect knotweed, chenopod, and maygrass, which were domesticated in the midcontinent and grown by generations of farmers before Cahokia Mounds grew to be the largest Native American population center north of Mexico. Fritz also looks at traditional farming systems to apply strategies that would be helpful to modern agriculture, including reviving wild and weedy descendants of these lost crops for redomestication. With a wealth of detail on specific sites, traditional foods, artifacts such as famous figurines, and color photos of significant plants, Feeding Cahokia will satisfy both scholars and interested readers.
Focusing on four major issues in prehistoric warfare studies: settlement data, skeletal trauma, weaponry, and iconography, David H. Dye presents a new interpretation of prehistoric warfare in the eastern United States.