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Time's River

Archaeological Syntheses from the Lower Mississippi Valley

Edited by Janet Rafferty and Evan Peacock, with contributions from Hector Neff,

Publication Year: 2008

This volume stands as a key general resource for archaeologists working in the region extending from Louisiana through Mississippi north to Missouri and Kentucky, and it represents an opportunity to influence for decades a large part of the archaeological work to take place in the Southeast.
The book responds to a need for a comprehensive archaeological overview of the Lower Mississippi Valley that forms a portion of an interstate corridor spanning nine states that will run from southern Michigan to the Texas-Mexico border. The culturally sensitive Mississippi Delta is one of the richest archaeological areas in North America, and it is crucial that research designs be comprehensive, coordinated, and meet current preservation and future research needs. The authors are well-respected researchers from both within and outside the region with expertise in the full range of topics that comprise American archaeology. They examine matters of method and theory, the application of materials science, geophysics, and other high-tech tools in archaeology that provide for optimum data-recovery.

Ian Brown, Kevin L. Bruce, Philip J. Carr, Robert C. Dunnell,
James Feathers, Gayle J. Fritz, Michael L. Galaty, S. Homes Hogue, H. Edwin Jackson, Jay K. Johnson, Carl P. Lipo, Hector Neff, Evan Peacock, Janet Rafferty, James H. Turner, John R. Underwood, Amy L. Young

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-xi

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1. Introduction: Reconsidering the Archaeology of the Lower Mississippi River Valley

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pp. 1-7

We believe that CRM is first and foremost a research pursuit, in the sense that documenting the archaeological record in order to learn from it is the main justification for the field. But it is a research pursuit with its own particular set of difficulties. The gray literature status of most CRM reports, and the fact that CRM archaeologists publish journal ...

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2. The Interstate 69 Project in Mississippi: Generation of an Archaeological Synthesis

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pp. 8-15

The Interstate 69 (I-69) proposed project corridor crosses the northwestern quarter of the state of Mississippi, a region better known to residents of the Southeast as the Mississippi Delta. The Phase I cultural resources survey of this project was conducted in 2002 and 2003 by Coastal Environments, Inc. (CEI), under contract to Neel- Schaffer, Inc., and the Mississippi Department ...

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3. Archaeology in the Lower Mississippi Valley

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pp. 16-44

There is ample evidence that the way we view ourselves and our past exerts a significant, sometimes profound, influence on the practice of archaeology. History does matter; it does have lessons for the present. After a long period of neglect, the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV), and the Southeast generally, have been blessed with a number of excellent histories of ...

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4. Archaeological Things: Languages of Observation

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pp. 45-68

There is nothing more fundamental to science than the categories used to perceive the external world. They are so fundamental that most people are completely unaware of the influence such structures exert on understanding. In some respects archaeologists, continually faced with unfamiliar objects and object parts, have proved more perspicacious than many “hard scientists” in ...

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5. Paleoenvironmental Modeling in the Central and Lower Mississippi River Valley: Past and Future Approaches

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pp. 69-98

At first glance, the wide expanses of bottomland making up the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMV) might seem to present a picture of homogenous environmental conditions. This perception is strengthened by synthetic environmental works in which the LMV is characterized as “southern floodplain forest” or some other broad term (e.g., Küchler 1964). While the general ...

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6. Settlement Patterns,Occupations, and Field Methods

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pp. 99-124

Settlement pattern analysis is dependent on well- thought- out delineation of occupations, following the understanding that occupations should be basic units, along with individual artifacts and features, for studying both variability and change in landscape use. In turn, occupation delineation is dependent on employing field methods that accurately record the three- dimensional ...

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7. Prehistoric Settlement in the Lower Mississippi Valley: A Critical Review

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pp. 125-167

Although explicit and systematic analyses of the spatial aspects of the archaeological record were added rather late in the discipline’s history, regional differences in the content, architecture, and occurrence of archaeological phenomena were recognized almost as soon as American archaeologists became aware of the interior of the continent (e.g., Atwater 1820). By the end of the ...

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8. Absolute Dating in the Mississippi Delta

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pp. 168-181

of chronology in the Mississippi Delta has relied primarily on stratigraphy and ceramic cross- dating. Seriation was employed early on (Phillips et al. 2003 [1951]), but once the basic sequence was worked out, the chronology was broken into a series of groupings called phases, extensionally defined by a diagnostic set of ceramics (Phillips 1970, Williams and Brain 1983). Radiocarbon dating and, rarely, some other ratio- scale chronometric methods, ...

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9. Bioarchaeology in the Mississippi Delta

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pp. 182-200

Over the past several decades, bioarchaeology has risen to the forefront in understanding and interpreting human behavior from archaeological skeletal series. Introduced in the mid-1970s, bioarchaeology represents an explanatory framework that recognizes the correlation between biological, cultural, and environmental variables (Blakely 1977; Buikstra 1976; Smith 1993). The bioarchaeology ...

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10. Through the Lens of the Lithic Analyst: The Organization of Mississippi Delta Chipped- Stone Technologies

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pp. 201-222

... thinking of the Mississippi Delta, the blues, catfish, and barbecue come to mind, and if you are an archaeologist, then mounds and pottery are probably on the list too, but not lithics. While there are reasons for this, both archaeological and historical, lithics nevertheless have played a role in our understanding of the prehistory of the Delta, especially for certain time periods and for particular types of prehistoric activities. Arguably, the limited availability ...

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11. Review of Ceramic Compositional Studies from In and Around the Mississippi Valley

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pp. 223-242

This chapter summarizes published and unpublished ceramic compositional studies undertaken over the past half- century relevant to the archaeology of the Yazoo Basin and vicinity. In general terms, the objective of these studies has been to examine patterns of interaction among prehistoric populations, both within the Mississippi valley and between the valley and adjacent ...

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12. Ceramic Petrography and the Classification of Mississippi’s Archaeological Pottery by Fabric: A GIS Approach

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pp. 243-273

In this chapter I review the petrographic analyses applied to archaeological ceramics from the state of Mississippi, with a specific focus on the Yazoo Basin. I argue that the traditional southeastern type- variety system— which is particularly complex in its application to artifacts from the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV)—fails to account fully for differences in the materials, such as clays and ...

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13. Faunal Research in the Yazoo Basin and Lower Mississippi Valley: Setting Parameters for Future Research in the I-69 Corridor, Mississippi

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pp. 274-298

Recovery and analysis of faunal materials have become integral aspects of archaeological research designs, providing valuable information regarding subsistence practices, site seasonality, impacts of human exploitation on animal populations, changes in procurement strategies due to environmental change, changing human demographics, and the gradual shift from hunting and gathering ...

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14. Paleoethnobotanical Information and Issues Relevant to theI-69 Overview Process, Northwest Mississippi

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pp. 299-343

The overview process serves three broad purposes for dealing with paleoethnobotanical remains. First, it provides an opportunity to pull together information from previous reports, both in the immediate zone of potential impact and in the surrounding region. Second, based on this information, it makes it possible to assess relevant questions and issues. Third, it is a forum for making recommendations ...

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15. Archaeological Remote Sensing Research in the Yazoo Basin: A History and Evaluation

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pp. 344-356

... following will be a broadly historical review of remote sensing applications in the archaeology of the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV). By LMV, I mean the Mississippi River drainage from approximately the Missouri/ Arkansas line south, although I will be a little flexible in this definition, particularly in the early period. By remote sensing, I mean to include any technique ...

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16. Culture Contact along the I-69 Corridor: Protohistoric and Historic Use of the Northern Yazoo Basin, Mississippi

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pp. 357-394

One might think that it would be relatively easy to discuss the Protohistoric (a.d. 1541–1673) and Historic aboriginal (a.d. 1674–1730) occupations of the northern Yazoo Basin. After all, this is the time when Europeans were on the scene, either indirectly or directly, so there should be ample written documentation available to chart the life and movements of the indigenous inhabitants. ...

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17. Sad Song in the Delta: The Potential for Historical Archaeology in the I-69 Corridor

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pp. 395-425

The Mississippi Delta has historically been, and continues to be, one of the most tormented regions in the South. John Emmerich, former editor and publisher of the Greenwood Commonwealth, noted in 1991 in a Time magazine article that the Delta has “the highest rate of everything bad, like teen pregnancy, and the lowest rate of everything good, like income” (Sidey 1991). In the 1960s, ...

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18. Fording the River: Concluding Comments

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pp. 426-432

... authors in this book represent a considerable diversity of archaeological theories and a great degree of expertise in specialty areas. Despite these differences in theory and substantive approaches, there is general agreement on a number of points. This summary looks in a broad way at some commonalities among the chapters and, from them, draws conclusions about some ways forward. Much more detail is presented in each chapter, especially concerning the ...

References Cited

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pp. 433-534


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pp. 535-538


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pp. 539-552

E-ISBN-13: 9780817381127
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817354893

Page Count: 552
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mississippi River Valley -- Antiquities.
  • Interstate 69 -- Antiquities.
  • Archaeology -- Lower Mississippi River Valley.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Lower Mississippi River Valley.
  • Mississippi River Valley -- History.
  • Prehistoric peoples -- Lower Mississippi River Valley.
  • Indians of North America -- Lower Mississippi River Valley -- Antiquities.
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