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Holocene Hunter-Gatherers of the Lower Ohio River Valley

Written by Richard Jefferies

Publication Year: 2009

By the Early Holocene (10,000 to 8,000 B.P.), small wandering bands of Archaic hunter-gatherers began to annually follow the same hunting trails, basing their temporary camps on seasonal conditions and the presence of food. The Pleistocene glaciers had receded by this time, making food more plentiful in some areas and living conditions less hazardous. Although these Archaic peoples have long been known from their primary activities as hunters and gatherers of wild food resources, recent evidence has been found that indicates they also began rudimentary cultivation sometime during the Middle Holocene.
Richard Jefferies—an Archaic specialist—comprehensively addresses the approximately 7,000 years of the prehistory of eastern North America, termed the Archaic Period by archaeologists. Jefferies centers his research on a 380-mile section of the Lower Ohio River Valley, an area rife with both temporary and long-term Archaic sites. He covers the duration of the Holocene and provides a compendium of knowledge of the era, including innovative research strategies and results. Presenting these data from a cultural-ecological perspective emphasizing the relationships between hunter-gatherers and the environments in which they lived, Jefferies integrates current research strategies with emerging theories that are beginning to look at culture history in creative ways

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Holocene Hunter-Gatherers of the Lower Ohio River Valley reflects the efforts of hundreds of people who have studied the archaeological remains of the Lower Ohio Valley’s earliest inhabitants. This work has spanned almost 200 years, starting with nineteenth-century settlers who found interesting “spear points” and “axes” as they cleared their fields and built their roads, canals, and towns. It...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-11

The Ohio River, one of the longest rivers in North America, extends nearly 1,600 km from the confl uence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Ohio River served as an important transportation and communication route for pioneers and settlers seeking access...

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2. Physical Landscape

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pp. 12-33

The first hunter-gatherers to enter the Lower Ohio Valley encountered a world unmodified by human activity. The physical landscape consisted of a variety of environmental features that included climate, landforms, plants, animals, mineral and lithic resources, and water. At the time the first hunter-gatherers arrived, their physical world was strongly influenced by the retreating Pleistocene...

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3. Hunter-Gatherer Archaeological Research in the Lower Ohio Valley

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pp. 34-65

Recognition and study of Lower Ohio Valley hunter-gatherer societies has been closely linked to the development of the Archaic Concept (Ritchie 1932). Although earlier Paleoindian groups were present, until very recently little was known about their way of life. Therefore, this chapter focuses on that portion of the Lower Ohio Valley’s archaeological record associated with Archaic...

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4. Peopling of the Valley: The Late Pleistocene―Early Holocene Transition

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pp. 66-87

The question of when and how the first people entered the western hemisphere has been of interest to archaeologists for many years. Until recently, many researchers believed that they were “big game” hunters who migrated to North America from northeast Asia about 11,000 years ago. Once in North America, they seem to have quickly migrated to the south and east, perhaps in pursuit of...

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5. Early Holocene Foragers

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pp. 88-118

Although the times of massive glacial expansion had ended, Lower Ohio Valley hunter-gatherers continued to feel the lingering effects of the Pleistocene for thousands of years. Archaeologists refer to the segment of prehistory extending from 10,000 to 3,000 years ago, representing more than one-half of eastern North America’s known past, as the Archaic period. The beginning of the Archaic...

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6. The Middle Holocene: Settling Into the Valley

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pp. 119-187

Lower Ohio Valley archaeologists traditionally refer to the time from 8,000 to 5,000 years ago as the Middle Archaic subperiod. As with the other Archaic subdivisions, the precise starting and ending dates for the Middle Archaic varies from one locality to another across the Midcontinent (Emerson et al. 2009). Much of this inconsistency is based on the differential timing for the...

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7. The Late Holocene: Filling the Landscape

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pp. 188-265

Geologists refer to the time from 5,000 years ago until the present as the Late Holocene. Archaeologically, the first 2,000 years of the Late Holocene correspond to the Late Archaic subperiod (5000–3000 B.P.). The drier conditions of the Hypsithermal interval were ending by this time, and sea levels along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts were approaching those of today. The composition of...

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8. Hunter-Gatherer Landscapes in Space and Time

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pp. 266-286

More than 12,000 years have passed since the first hunter-gatherers found their way to what we now call the Lower Ohio Valley. Small hunter-gatherer groups that moved into the Lower Ohio Valley at the end of the Pleistocene appear to have had little immediate impact on the valley’s landscape. However, as their numbers increased and their mobility decreased during the Holocene, their descendants...


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pp. 287-335


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pp. 337-346

E-ISBN-13: 9780817382414
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817355418

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 705799111
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Holocene Hunter-Gatherers of the Lower Ohio River Valley

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Subject Headings

  • Hunting and gathering societies -- Ohio River Valley.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Ohio River Valley.
  • Paleo-Indians -- Agriculture -- Ohio River Valley.
  • Paleoecology -- Ohio River Valley.
  • Human ecology -- Ohio River Valley -- History.
  • Landscapes -- Social aspects -- Ohio River Valley -- History.
  • Ohio River Valley -- Antiquities.
  • Land settlement -- Ohio River Valley -- History.
  • Paleo-Indians -- Ohio River Valley.
  • Social archaeology -- Ohio River Valley.
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