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Early Pottery in the Southeast

Tradition and Innovation in Cooking Technology

Written by Kenneth E. Sassaman

Publication Year: 1993

A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication

Among southeastern Indians pottery was an innovation that enhanced the economic value of native foods and the efficiency of food preparation. But even though pottery was available in the Southeast as early as 4,500 years ago, it took nearly two millenia before it was widely used. Why would an innovation of such economic value take so long to be adopted?

The answer lies in the social and political contexts of traditional cooking technology. Sassaman's book questions the value of using technological traits alone to mark temporal and spatial boundaries of prehistoric cultures and shows how social process shapes the prehistoric archaeological record.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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List of Tables

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-xiii

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pp. xv-xvi

This book is a revised version of the doctoral dissertation I presented to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1991. The members of my dissertation committee, Dena F. Dincauze, chair, H. Martin Wobst, Arthur S. Keene, and James K. Boyce, inspired me to think in new ways about old archaeological problems, and I thank...

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1. Problem Orientation and Overview

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pp. 1-13

Pottery is one of several technological achievements that was long believed to have been a consequence of, or precondition for, the transition from hunting and gathering to food production. As canon control of nature, domesticating its plants and animals to provide a vagaries that constrained their technological and social development. Under agriculture, the story went, the requirements of processing...

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2. Early Ceramic Vessel Technology in the American Southeast: Retrospect and Prospect

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pp. 14-41

During the prehistoric period referred to as the Late Archaic (i.e., 5000-3000 B.P.), pottery was made and used in three major areas of the American Southeast: the South Atlantic Slope, peninsular Florida, and the Midsouth. Other than the use of fiber for temper, the pottery traditions of these areas are distinct from one another in vessel form and surface finish. In addition to their technological...

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3. Archaeological Review of the Late Archaic Period in the Savannah River Valley Region

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pp. 42-82

The Late Archaic period is usually depicted as a time when population, sedentism, and organizational complexity increased America (e.g., Dragoo 1976; Griffin 1967; Ford 1974; Smith 1986; Stoltman 1978). Joseph R. Caldwell (1958) described the Late Archaic as the culmination of increasing efficiency in exploiting seasonal food resources during the Archaic period, the attainment...

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4. Sample Selection, Methods of Analysis, and Component Chronology

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pp. 83-110

The technofunctional and distributional analyses I employ in Chapters 5 and 6 to document the histories of Late Archaic cooking innovations are based on interassemblage comparisons of soapstone artifacts and early ceramic vessel sherds from dozens of sites in the Savannah River Valley region. In this chapter I provide the The selection of a sample of artifact assemblages for this study was ...

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5. Innovations in Late Archaic Cooking Technology

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pp. 111-188

Late Archaic cooking technologies in the Savannah River Valley have been described as alternative means of boiling foods (Anderson and Joseph 1988:201; Goodyear 1988). In general, boiling or other types of moist cooking such as simmering are argued to be techniques of food preparation that developed in conjunction with durable, fire-resistant containers. Moist cooking indeed represented...

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6. Social and Economic Contexts of Early Ceramic Vessel Technology

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pp. 189-230

In this chapter I present evidence for the distribution of Late Archaic sociocultural entities in the Savannah River Valley region and data logical and technofunctional evidence presented earlier, this information is then used to evaluate propositions presented in Chapter 2 about social factors in the development and spread of fiber-tempered Discrete sociocultural entities within Late Archaic populations...

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pp. 231-234

Since 1990, when research for this book was completed, several projects in the middle Savannah River Valley have yielded data that are relevant to the interpretations I propose herein. In fact, results from two large-scale excavation projects were compared directly to my findings. In one case the results were corroborative...

Appendix: Radiocarbon Dates for Late Archaic Sites in the Savannah River Valley Region

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pp. 235-244


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pp. 245-278


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pp. 279-285

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384265
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817306700

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 1993

OCLC Number: 44955431
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Early Pottery in the Southeast

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Subject Headings

  • Southern States -- Antiquities.
  • Indian pottery -- Savannah River Valley (Ga. and S.C.).
  • Indians of North America -- Southern States -- Antiquities.
  • Savannah River Valley (Ga. and S.C.) -- Antiquities.
  • Indian pottery -- Southern States.
  • Indians of North America -- Savannah River Valley (Ga. and S.C.) -- Antiquities.
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