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Bioarchaeological Studies of Life in the Age of Agriculture

A View from the Southeast

Edited by Patricia M. Lambert, with contributions from Keith Jacobi, David C. We

Publication Year: 2000

Investigations of skeletal remains from key archaeological sites reveal new data and offer insights on prehistoric life and health in the

The shift from foraging to farming had important health consequences for prehistoric peoples, but variations in health existed

within communities that had made this transition. This new collection draws on the rich bioarchaeological record of the Southeastern United States
to explore variability in health and behavior within the age of agriculture. It offers new perspectives on human adaptation to various geographic and
cultural landscapes across the entire Southeast, from Texas to Virginia, and presents new data from both classic and little-known sites.

The contributors question the reliance on simple cause-and-effect relationships in human health and behavior by addressing such key bioarchaeological issues as disease history and epidemiology, dietary composition and sufficiency, workload stress, patterns of violence, mortuary practices, and biological consequences of European contact. They also advance our understanding of agriculture by showing that uses of maize were more varied than has been previously supposed.

Representing some of the best work being done today by physical anthropologists, this volume provides new insights into human adaptation for both archaeologists and osteologists. It attests to the heterogeneous character of Southeastern societies during the late prehistoric and early historic periods while effectively detailing the many factors that have shaped biocultural evolution.

Contributors include: Patricia S. Bridges, Elizabeth Monaham Driscoll, Debra L. Gold, Dale L. Hutchinson, Keith P. Jacobi, Patricia M. Lambert, Clark Spencer Larsen, Lynette Norr, Mary Lucas Powell, Marianne Reeves, Lisa Sattenspiel, Margaret J. Schoeninger, Mark R. Schurr, Leslie E. Sering, David S. Weaver, and Matthew A. Williamson

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. vii-viii

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p. xv

I would like to thank all of the authors for their patience and good cheer as I

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-5

This edited volume had its origins in a symposium of the same name organized for the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Durham, North Carolina. The purpose of the symposium was to move a step beyond studies emphasizing the health consequences of the shift from foraging to farming...

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2. Ancient Diseases, Modern Perspectives: Treponematosis and Tuberculosis in the Age of Agriculture

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pp. 6-34

Major changes in patterns of Native American mortality, health, and disease accompanied the gradual transition from the Archaic hunter-gatherer lifeway, prevalent before 3,000 years B.P. throughout the Eastern Woodlands, to the sedentary agriculturally dependent late prehistoric lifeway described by the first Europeans to enter the Southeast...

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3. Warfare-Related Trauma in the Late Prehistory of Alabama

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pp. 35-62

The widespread extent of warfare or raiding in native societies in North America has been known for many years. Besides historic accounts, skeletal remains have yielded ample evidence of the frequency of indigenous warfare. These accounts include numerous examples of death caused by arrows or spearpoints and cases of perimortem mutilation, such as decapitation, dismemberment of limbs,...

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4. Transitions at Moundville: A Question of Collapse

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pp. 63-77

The site of Moundville in west-central Alabama is the archaeological remnant of a prehistoric political and ceremonial center that oversaw a regional population of several thousand people between ca. A.D. 1000 and 1500 (Peebles 1987a). At its peak, Moundville was one of the largest such centers in the Southeast and covered about 100...

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5. Dental Health at Early Historic Fusihatchee Town: Biocultural Implications of Contact in Alabama

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pp. 78-95

The research presented here traces changes in patterns of diet and health stress from the Mississippian period into the historic period in Alabama using a model that compares published data on dental health at the prehistoric Moundville site (ca. A.D. 1050 to 1550) to new research on dental health at early contact period Fusihatchee Town (ca....

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6. Agricultural Melodies and Alternative Harmonies in Florida and Georgia

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pp. 96-115

Late prehistoric cultural development in eastern North America is often characterized by the emergence of nonegalitarian societies organized into hierarchical political formations and associated with increased reliance on horticultural products, specifically maize (Griffin 1985; Peebles and Kus 1977; B. D. Smith 1987, 1990, 1992). Archaeological...

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7. Inferring Iron-De

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pp. 116-133

Anemia is a condition present when an individual’s hemoglobin or red blood cell amount—as measured by count or volume—is below normal. This is problematic because the body is less able to transport oxygen to the tissues. There are various types of anemias, but most fall into one of two groups: genetic hemolytic (abnormal hemoglobin...

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8. A Comparison of Degenerative Joint Disease between Upland and Coastal Prehistoric Agriculturalists from Georgia

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pp. 134-147

One of the fundamental components of bioarchaeological research is the use of pathological skeletal lesions in the study of the interaction between biological and cultural aspects of past populations (Blakely 1977; Buikstra 1977; Buikstra and Cook 1980; Bush and Zvelebil 1991; Grauer 1995; Iscan and Kennedy 1989; Larsen 1987; Larsen and...

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9. Dental Health and Late Woodland Subsistence in Coastal North Carolina

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pp. 148-167

The North Carolina coastal plain is a region that has not yet been researched extensively by bioarchaeologists. Although many of the human burials have been analyzed by physical anthropologists, primarily from Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and East Carolina University, little synthesis of the results...

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10. Life on the Periphery: Health in Farming Communities of Interior North Carolina and Virginia

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pp. 168-194

Unlike regions such as the Black Warrior Valley of Alabama described earlier in this volume, North Carolina and Virginia are located on the periphery of the Mississippian cultural sphere. Consequently, this mid-Atlantic region never experienced the same degree of political centralization and population aggregation that characterized...

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11. “Utmost Confusion” Reconsidered: Bioarchaeology and Secondary Burial in Late Prehistoric Interior Virginia

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pp. 195-218

Virginia’s best-known prehistoric archaeological excavation took place over 200 years ago, when Thomas Jefferson explored and described a burial mound on his property (Jefferson 1954). Jefferson’s work continues to be widely cited as the first example of a careful and problem-oriented excavation strategy in American archaeology...


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pp. 219-272


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pp. 273-276


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pp. 277-280

E-ISBN-13: 9780817383145
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817310073

Publication Year: 2000

OCLC Number: 47010788
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Bioarchaeological Studies of Life in the Age of Agriculture

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Subject Headings

  • Southern States -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Indians of North America -- Southern States -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Indians of North America -- Health and hygiene -- Southern States -- Congresses.
  • Indians of North America -- Anthropometry -- Southern States -- Congresses.
  • Mississippian culture -- Congresses.
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