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Architectural Variability in the Southeast

Edited by Cameron H. Lacquement, with contributions from Lynne P. Sullivan, Robe

Publication Year: 2007

Some of the most visible expressions of human culture are illustrated architecturally. Unfortunately for archaeologists, the architecture being studied is not always visible and must be inferred from soil inconsistencies or charred remains. This study deals with research into roughly a millennium of Native American architecture in the Southeast and includes research on the variation of construction techniques employed both above and below ground. Most of the architecture discussed is that of domestic houses with some emphasis on large public buildings and sweat lodges. The authors use an array of methods and techniques in examining native architecture including experimental archaeology, ethnohistory, ethnography, multi-variant analysis, structural engineering, and wood science technology. A major portion of the work, and probably the most important in terms of overall significance, is that it addresses the debate of early Mississippian houses and what they looked like above ground and the changes that occurred both before and after the arrival of Europeans.
Dennis B. Blanton
Tamira K. Brennan
 Ramie A. Gougeon
Tom H. Gresham
Vernon J. Knight Jr.
 Cameron H. Lacquement
 Robert H. Lafferty, III
Mark A. McConaughy
Nelson A. Reed
 Robert J. Scott
Lynne P. Sullivan

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

The origins of this project on Native American architecture began in the fall of 2005 as a symposium titled “Variability in Native American Architecture of the Late Prehistoric and Early Historic Southeast,” presented at the 62nd Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Columbia, South Carolina. Several of the presenters from the symposium were not able to contribute to the...

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1. Introduction to Architectural Variability in the Southeast

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pp. 1-11

Native (or indigenous) architecture throughout the world differs substantially in building styles, materials, and construction techniques. Varieties in architectural form are not only found among the different cultural, geographical, and temporal regions of the globe but within these regions as well. For instance, a survey of contemporary South African houses alone would show several...

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2. Evidence of Curved Roof Construction in Mississippian Structures

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pp. 12-31

Most recent descriptions, interpretations, and museum visual recreations of prehistoric rectangular structures assume the use of a hipped or gabled roof as the typical house form during the Mississippian stage (A.D. 900–1550) in the eastern United States. This perception of Mississippian houses has not always been dominant. DeJarnette, Lewis, Kneberg, and Webb were among...

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3. An Experimental Perspective on Mississippian Small Pole Structures

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pp. 32-48

This chapter presents the findings of a unique, long-term, experimental project designed to evaluate both the aspects of the so-called Mississippian small pole architectural style and the archaeological information produced from its creation. The first phase of the experiment, the construction of a full- scale replica, tested the plausibility of certain architectural features of small pole structures inferred...

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4. Typology, Chronology, and Technological Changes of Mississippian Domestic Architecture in West-Central Alabama

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pp. 49-72

Archaeological studies of Mississippian houses in the southeastern United States have revealed several forms of domestic floor plans. The two most common floor plans are a design utilizing small poles, which are set relatively close together and typically inserted in a wall trench, and a design employing large posts spaced relatively far apart and set in individual postholes (see Figure 1.2). These two layouts of domestic...

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5. In-Ground Evidence of Above-Ground Architecture at Kincaid Mounds

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pp. 73-100

“Primitive architecture” as defined by Rapoport (1969:2–3) is a type of architecture that exhibits homogeneity as a direct result of the cooperative construction of the community, wherein there are no specialists. Depictions of primitive architecture ranging from Native American houses and temples to entire village complexes can be readily found in standard references such as...

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6. A Comparison of Burned Mississippian Houses from Illinois

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pp. 101-116

Many burned Mississippian structures have been excavated in Illinois over the last 50 years. These buildings have provided a wealth of information on construction techniques, materials, and architecture. It is becoming apparent that the stereotypic hipped or gabled roofed wall trench house, although relatively common, is by no means the only structural type built and/or used by the various...

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7. A WPA D

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pp. 117-135

Many students of late prehistoric architecture in the Southeast, including most of the authors in this volume, reference the work of Thomas M. N. Lewis and Madeline D. Kneberg (Lewis and Kneberg 1946; Lewis et al. 1995). As Lacquement notes in Chapter 1 (this volume), their 1940s ideas on flexed pole construction buildings with curved roofs are coming back into vogue, after a...

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8. An Architectural Grammar of Late Mississippian Houses in Northwest Georgia

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pp. 136-152

Domestic structures are mirrors that reflect in numerous ways the households that create them. The house as a physical structure is a shelter comprised of a variety of materials, encompassing a prescribed amount of space, and divided according to societal norms and probably to some degree by individual choice. The house also provides a rich source of information about culture, potentially revealing...

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9. A Mississippian Sweat Lodge

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pp. 153-165

A structure, approximately 3 m in diameter, was excavated at the East site (3P0610), near Tyronza in Poinsett County, Arkansas, that possessed artifactual and architectural characteristics similar to that of historic Native American sweat lodges. The distribution of sweat lodges or sweat houses has been documented as being utilized by cultures ranging from the Eskimo of Alaska to the...

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10. Interpreting Changes in Historic Creek Household Architecture at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 166-185

House construction is based on shared traditions and ideas about how dwellings should be built, where, of what materials, how they are to be used, and where different activities will take place. Change in domestic architecture can often be related to significant changes in cultural knowledge, attitudes, and technology within a given community or society. The historic Creeks selectively...

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11. Conclusions: Taking Architecture Seriously

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pp. 186-192

It is difficult to know how many late- period structure foundations have been excavated archaeologically and are on record for the Eastern Woodlands. A very rough estimate is that the number is above 4,000, perhaps somewhere between that and 5,000. Whatever the actual number, the point is that there is a large available sample, accumulated over more than seven...

References Cited

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pp. 193-214


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pp. 215-217


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pp. 219-224

E-ISBN-13: 9780817382018
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817354596

Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 426526602
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Architectural Variability in the Southeast

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Subject Headings

  • Mississippian culture -- Southern States -- Congresses.
  • Indians of North America -- Southern States -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Southern States -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Indians of North America -- Dwellings -- Southern States -- Congresses.
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