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Fort Ancient Development in the Mississippian World

Written by Robert A. Cook

Publication Year: 2008

The last prehistoric cultures to inhabit the Middle Ohio Valley  (ca. A.D. 1000–1650) are referred to as Fort Ancient societies, which exhibited a wide variety of Mississippian period characteristics. What is less well-known and little understood are the social processes by which Mississippian characteristics spread to Fort Ancient communities. Through a comprehensive study of SunWatch, one of the few thoroughly excavated Fort Ancient settlements, the author focuses on the development of village social structure within a broad geographic and temporal framework, recognizing border areas as particularly dynamic contexts of social change. As a fundamental study of social patterning of Fort Ancient villages, this work reveals the interrelationships of small social units in culture change and social structure development and provides a full reconsideration of the Mississippian dimensions of Fort Ancient societies and a model for future investigations of larger patterning in the late
prehistory of the region.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

This project would not have been possible without financial support from the Dayton Society of Natural History (DSNH) (Anthropology Department), Michigan State University (Department of Anthropology, College of Social Science, and Graduate School), the Ohio Archaeological Council, and Ohio Two individuals were instrumental in very different ways in the genesis and ...

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1. To Be Mississippian or Not to Be Mississippian?

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pp. 1-20

This study examines whether or not Mississippians influenced the development of Fort Ancient societies (ca. A.D. 1000–1650), the last prehistoric “culture” to inhabit the Middle Ohio valley (Figure 1.1, Figure 1.2). It has long been known that Fort Ancient assemblages contain a variety of Mississippian characteristics (Griffi n 1943:257–260). The increase over time in the occurrence of...

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2. Fort Ancient and the Range of Mississippian Social Complexity

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pp. 21-40

In this chapter, the basic range of Mississippian and Fort Ancient site and social structures and mortuary patterns are outlined, along with evolutionary models that have been previously formulated regarding the development of Fort An-Differentiating the Mississippian continuum began with Holmes’s (1886) geographical differentiation of late prehistoric pottery in the midwestern United ...

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3. An Approach to the Problem

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pp. 41-60

Multiple spatial scales of analysis are considered in this examination of Fort Ancient village development, including household remains, mortuary domains, and overall site structure. Assessing the structure and growth of households is the focus at the residential level. The identification of leadership and assessing its development in relation to interactions with Middle Mississippians is the ...

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4. Corporate Behavior in Space and Time

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pp. 61-105

This chapter identifies corporate groups at SunWatch by spatially and diachronically linking residential and mortuary domains. A chronological framework is first established on the basis of relations between temporally diagnostic artifact and feature attributes. The interrelated growth of household clusters This section establishes a chronological framework to provide the foundation ...

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5. Development of Village Leadership

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pp. 106-124

The examination of leadership at SunWatch focused on general characteristics of status in mortuary and architectural elements encoded in Middle Mis-sissippian villages (see Chapter 2 and Chapter 3). Village layout is examined on the basis of spatial proximity of features to the central posthole, unique architecture, storage distinctions, and solar alignments. Findings are then...

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6. Periphery Peers

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pp. 125-147

This chapter examines the extent to which other Fort Ancient sites in the Miami Valleys exhibit characteristics documented at SunWatch. This examination is limited in two major ways. First, there have been no systematic surveys in the region; surveys that have been completed are in central Kentucky (Henderson 1998) and southeastern Ohio (Graybill 1981). Second, broad-scale excavations...

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7. A Model of Fort Ancient Village Development

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pp. 148-158

This study has investigated the social structure and formation of the SunWatch site, a Fort Ancient village occupied during the crest of neighboring Middle Mississippian developments. The theoretical perspective incorporated multiple spatial scales, focusing on the emergence of corporate groups and village leaders within a broad geographical framework. A theoretical and methodological...

References Cited

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pp. 159-182


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pp. 183-197

E-ISBN-13: 9780817381776
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817315900

Page Count: 214
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 609852662
MUSE Marc Record: Download for SunWatch

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Sunwatch Site (Dayton, Ohio).
  • Fort Ancient culture -- Ohio River Valley.
  • Mississippian culture -- Ohio River Valley.
  • Social archaeology -- Ohio River Valley.
  • Ohio River Valley -- Antiquities.
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