We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Measuring the Flow of Time

The Works of James A. Ford, 1935-1941

Written by James A. Ford, foreword by Gordon Willey, edited by R. Lee Lyman and

Publication Year: 1999

A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication

This collection of Ford's works focuses on the development of ceramic chronology—a key tool in Americanist archaeology.


When James Ford began archaeological fieldwork in 1927, scholars divided time simply into prehistory and history. Though certainly influenced by his colleagues, Ford devoted his life to establishing a chronology for prehistory based on ceramic types, and today he deserves credit for bringing chronological order to the vast archaeological record of the Mississippi Valley.


This book collects Ford's seminal writings showing the importance of pottery styles in dating sites, population movements, and cultures. These works defined the development of ceramic chronology that culminated in the major volume Archaeological Survey in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, 1940-1947, which Ford wrote with Philip Phillips and James B. Griffin. In addition to Ford's early writings, the collection includes articles written with Griffin and Gordon Willey, as well as other key papers by Henry Collins and Fred Kniffen.


Editors Michael O'Brien and Lee Lyman have written an introduction that sets the stage for each chapter and provides a cohesive framework from which to examine Ford's ideas. A foreword by Willey, himself a participant in this chronology development, looks back on the origin of that method. Measuring the Flow of Time traces the development of culture history in American archaeology by providing a single reference for all of Ford's writing on chronology. It chronicles the formation of one of the most important tools for understanding the prehistory of North America and shows its lasting relevance.


Published by: The University of Alabama Press


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. v-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-xiv

In previous statements (Willey 1969, 1988) I have noted that the late James Alfred Ford (1911-1968) was a powerfully innovative force in the development of Americanist archaeology in the mid-twentieth century. I still hold this opinion. Ford had high intelligence, amazing in sight into complex matters, and a most forceful personality...

read more

Preface and Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xv-xx

By any measure, James A. Ford is still recognized as one of the leading figures in the development of Americanist archaeology, especially the archaeology of the southeastern United States. When Ford entered the profession in the late 1920s as a field worker for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the revolutionary chronological work ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-50

James Alfred Ford (Figure 1) was born in Water Valley, Mississippi, in 1911. At his death in 1968 he was widely acknowledged as one of the leading figures in American archaeology and one of the preeminent archaeologists of the southeastern United States. During his career Ford worked in other regions-Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Alaska ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 51-57

read more

1. From Excavations at a Prehistoric Indian Village Site in Mississippi

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 58-67

Archeological work in the Southern States has in the past been confined almost exclusively to the excavation of Indian mounds. As these are the most imposing aboriginal remains of the region, it is natural that they should have received first attention. But there are other remains-Indian village sites-which promise to yield data that will ...

read more

2. An Introduction to Louisiana Archeology

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 75-83

Contrary to popular belief, the history of the region included within the present bounds of the State of Louisiana begins not with the discovery of the Mississippi River, but long before that time, even before the dawn of the Christian Era. The pre-Columbian inhabitants of Louisiana and neighboring southern states were neither the "wild and ...

read more

3. Outline of Louisiana and Mississippi Pottery Horizons [Includes Image Plates]

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 84-93

The most promising means to an understanding of the story of the lower Mississippi River Valley before 1700, the beginning of reliable documented history, lies, as explained in an article in the January issue of the Conservation Review,1 in the studies of styles of pottery made, used, broken and cast aside as garbage on the sites of the old towns. By ...

read more

4. Ceramic Decoration Sequence at an Old Indian Village Site near Sicily Island, Louisiana [Includes Image Plates]

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 94-130

In the summer of 1933, while engaged in a survey of the Indian village sites of northeastern Louisiana, an interesting situation was observed which promised the possibility of vertical...

read more

5. Analysis of Indian Village Site Collections from Louisiana and Mississippi [Includes Image Plates]

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 131-410

The field-work of which this report is a result was initiated under the auspices of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in 1927. In the summers of that and the succeeding years of 1928 and...

read more

6. Archaeological Methods Applicable to Louisiana

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 411-414

The task with which the archaeologist is primarIly concerned in attempting to rediscover dead and forgotten cultures is that of determining a time scale. or chronology. In other words. he must develop a history of the people...

read more

7. The Indian Mounds of Iberville Parish

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 415-434

This study of Indian mounds is the second such to be included with a Parish geological bulletin.1 The study was undertaken both on its own merits as a contribution to the archaeology of Louisiana, and as an aid to the unraveling of the...

read more

8. Report of the Conference on Southeastern Pottery Typology

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 435-449

The Conference on Southeastern Ceramic Typology was an informal meeting of archeologists directly concerned with the problems of analyzing the pottery recovered in the course of archeological investigation of aboriginal....

read more

9. A Chronological Method Applicable to the Southeast

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 450-454

Any archaeologist who considers that his science is pledged to the task of rediscovering unrecorded and lost history, rather than to the collection of "curios," is hardly in a position to deny the paramount importance of chronology. Lacking a scale which demonstrates the relative ages of the various activities of an ancient people, we are at best merely the collectors of dis ...

read more

10. From Crooks Site, a Marksville Period Burial Mound in La Salle Parish, Louisiana [Includes Image Plates]

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 455-529

The excavation of the Crooks site in La Salle Parish, La., was begun October 2, 1938, and was completed April 20, 1939. This investigation was undertaken as part of the program of the state-wide Archeological Project of the Louisiana Works...

read more

11. An Interpretation of the Prehistory of the Eastern United States [Includes Image Plates]

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 531-569

THERE has been a remarkably rapid increase in information concerning the prehistory of the eastern part of the United States in the last ten years. This has been the direct result of archeological researches undertaken by several federal agencies and by universities or other institutions in nearly everyone of the states. Undoubtedly the large amount of apparently dis connected data now in print, or yet unpublished but serving as common top ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 571-582

E-ISBN-13: 9780817383664
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817309916

Page Count: 604
Publication Year: 1999

OCLC Number: 45843125
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Measuring the Flow of Time

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- Louisiana -- Antiquities.
  • Archaeologists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Ford, James Alfred, 1911-1968.
  • Anthropologists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Indians of North America -- Mississippi -- Antiquities.
  • Louisiana -- Antiquities.
  • Mississippi -- Antiquities.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access