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Early and Middle Woodland Landscapes of the Southeast

Alice P. Wright

Publication Year: 2013

The Early and Middle Woodland periods (1000 BCE-500 CE) were remarkable for their level of culture contact and interaction in pre-Columbian North America. This volume, featuring case studies from Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Tennessee, sheds new light on the various approaches to the study of the dynamic and complex social landscapes of these eras. Essays by well-known and up-and-coming scholars incorporate empirical data with social organizational concepts such as ritual, cultural, and social places, highlighting the variability and common themes in the relationships between people, landscapes, and the built environment that characterize this period of North American native life.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Series: Florida Museum of Natural History: Riple


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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1. Introduction: Emerging Approaches to the Landscapes of the Early and Middle Woodland Southeast

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pp. 1-16

On a pleasantly balmy morning in November 2009, several dozen archaeologists crowded into a small conference room in Mobile, Alabama, to hear David Anderson and Kenneth Sassaman comment on the current state of archaeological research in the American Southeast. Their paper, now expanded into a book (Anderson and Sassaman 2012), covered considerable topical,...

Part 1. Extensive Landscapes: Between and Beyond Monuments

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2. The Early–Middle Woodland Domestic Landscape in Kentucky

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pp. 19-44

Archaeological studies of the Early–Middle Woodland subperiods in Kentucky have long been associated with research on Adena, an archaeological culture best known for earthwork construction and elaborate mortuary ritual. Since the 1930s, archaeologists have made great progress in understanding the Adena ritual landscape, including recent studies of developmental trajectories...

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3. The Adena Mortuary Landscape: Off-Mound Rituals and Burial Mounds

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pp. 45-55

The central Kentucky Adena mortuary landscape comprised burial mounds (Applegate 2008; Clay, chapter 4, this volume; Henry, chapter 15, this volume) and off-mound ritual localities. Mounds ranged in height from less than 50 cm to more than 30 m. Small, low-lying mounds would have been used once for a single interment, while large, taller mounds would have...

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4. Like a Dead Dog: Strategic Ritual Choice in the Mortuary Enterprise

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pp. 56-70

My deliberately provocative title is an attempt to move archaeological discourse away from more predictable, Western-oriented channels toward those that might be novel yet informative. It is taken from the words of a coastal New Guinea informant commenting on the “correctness” of a mortuary ritual sequence he had witnessed. In Tok Pidgin, his words were “Ol e troim wey nating...

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5. The Early and Middle Woodland of the Upper Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee

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pp. 71-88

In this chapter, we address Early and Middle Woodland landscape use on the Upper Cumberland Plateau (UCP) of Tennessee. In keeping with this volume’s perspectives on social landscapes, we consider how the residues of various technological processes—raw material procurement, stone tool production, ceramic manufacture, and obtaining and processing subsistence

Part 2. Monumental Landscapes: Mound and Earthwork Sites

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6. Winchester Farm: A Small Adena Enclosure in Central Kentucky

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pp. 91-107

Earthen constructions of various sizes and shapes have attracted the attention of people interested in the prehistoric remains of the middle Ohio River valley for over 200 years. In fact, in 1803, Meriwether Lewis described the celebrated Grave Creek mound on the Ohio River in West Virginia as a “remarkable artificial mound of earth” encompassed by a wide ditch. The mound was...

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7. Persistent Place, Shifting Practice: The Premound Landscape at the Garden Creek Site, North Carolina

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pp. 108-121

The social landscapes of the Middle Woodland Southeast comprised a variety of culturally meaningful places, from camp sites and settlements to burial grounds and ceremonial centers. Historically, these latter constituents of the landscape, often consisting of monumental mounds and earthworks, have undergone the most intensive archaeological investigation. Thanks to...

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8. Biltmore Mound and the Appalachian Summit Hopewell

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pp. 122-137

Hopewellian ceremonies of the Appalachian Summit were undoubtedly varied and undertaken at a variety of locations across the landscape. However, it can be argued that only Garden Creek Mound No. 2 (31Hw2—Keel 1976; Wright, chapter 7, this volume) and Biltmore Mound (31Bn174—Kimball et al. 2010) are documented Hopewellian/Connestee phase mound sites in western North Carolina. Both have single mounds placed adjacent to...

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9. The Woodland Period Cultural Landscape of the Leake Site Complex

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pp. 138-152

Although it was occupied for approximately one millennium, from circa 300 BC to AD 650, the Leake site developed over a short period of time from a local domestic occupation early in its history into a large Hopewellian ceremonial and interaction center, which concomitantly served as a gateway community that geographically and culturally linked the Southeast and the Midwest...

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10. The Creation of Ritual Space at the Jackson Landing Site in Coastal Mississippi

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pp. 153-164

A defining trait of many Middle and Late Woodland societies across the Eastern Woodlands was the construction and use of various forms of monumental architecture (Anderson and Mainfort 2002a: 10–13; Carr and Case 2005c; Griffin 1967: 186; Knight 2001: 313; Mainfort and Sullivan 1998: 4; Steponaitis 1986: 379). In many locations, Woodland architects used culturally...

Part 3. Landscapes of Interaction

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11. Late Middle Woodland Settlement and Ritual at the Armory Site

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pp. 167-180

The scale of interregional interaction in the Eastern Woodlands during the Middle Woodland period is generally thought to surpass that of any preceding prehistoric period. Characteristic of this interaction was the exchange of exotic materials and the sharing of ideas regarding the production of material culture, mound building, and mortuary ceremonialism (Chase 1998; Griffin...

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12. Constituting Similarity and Difference in the Deep South: The Ritual and Domestic Landscapes of Kolomoki, Crystal River, and Fort Center

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pp. 181-195

Archaeological studies of the Woodland period societies of eastern North America have undergone a renaissance in recent years, with the appearance of a number of ambitious syntheses (Byers 2004; Carr and Case 2005a; Case and Carr 2008; Charles and Buikstra 2006; Romain 2009). The vast majority of this work, however, has focused on Middle Woodland societies in the...

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13. Ritual Life and Landscape at Tunacunnhee

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pp. 196-203

As demonstrated by the chapters of this volume, Early and Middle Woodland ritual landscapes are variable and dynamic throughout Eastern North America. Our analyses of these phenomena, however, are uneven, because interpretations of landscapes result not only from local culture histories but also from our various academic backgrounds and theoretical persuasions....

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14. Swift Creek and Weeden Island Mortuary Landscapes of Interaction

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pp. 204-218

Middle Woodland burial mounds in the lower Southeast were the ritualized locations for mortuary ceremonies and periodic population aggregation that probably included various other events. While there is some variation in the form and apparent function of these burial mounds, most mounds evidence a degree of social connection that extends beyond typical contemporaneous...

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15. Working Out Adena Political Organization and Variation from the Ritual Landscape in the Kentucky Bluegrass

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pp. 219-234

This chapter examines the distribution of structural variation in Adena mortuary ritual and burial practices across three subregions of the Kentucky Bluegrass: the Northern Bluegrass, Central Bluegrass, and Eastern Bluegrass (Pollack 2008). This study is used as a foundation to conceptualize Adena leadership as situational and heterarchical in nature (Abrams and Le Rouge...

Part 4. Woodland Landscapes in Historical and Regional Perspective

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16. On Ceremonial Landscapes

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pp. 237-246

This volume bears testimony to the growing evidence that landscape approaches in archaeology offer a very productive route to uncovering unexpected expressions of ritual practice found on sites of the Early and Middle Woodland periods. Ritual has been associated with the Middle Woodland period since the days of Squier and Davis (1848), when they identified...

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17. Social Landscapes of Early and Middle Woodland Peoples in the Southeast

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pp. 247-262

Exciting and important things were happening during the Early and Middle Woodland periods in the Southeast, the interval from roughly 3,200 to 1,500 calendar years ago, as made clearer by the chapters in this volume. In any region where a vast amount of fieldwork and data collection has been occurring, as has been the case for many decades in the Southeast, there is a continual...


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pp. 263-310

List of Contributors

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pp. 311-314


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pp. 315-320

Other Works in the Series

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pp. 321-322

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048475
E-ISBN-10: 0813048478
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044606

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 38 drawings, 24 b&w photos, 15 tables
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Florida Museum of Natural History: Riple

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Woodland culture -- Southern States.
  • Adena culture -- Southern States.
  • Mound-builders -- Southern States.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Southern States.
  • Southern States -- Antiquities.
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