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Plaquemine Archaeology

Edited by Mark A. Rees and Patrick Livingood, with preface by Stephen Williams,

Publication Year: 2007

First major work to deal solely with the Plaquemine societies.

Plaquemine, Louisiana, about 10 miles south of Baton Rouge on the banks of the Mississippi River, seems an unassuming southern community for which to designate an entire culture. Archaeological research conducted in the region between 1938 and 1941, however, revealed distinctive cultural materials that provided the basis for distinguishing a unique cultural manifestation in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Plaquemine was first cited in the archaeological literature by James Ford and Gordon Willey in their 1941 synthesis of eastern U.S. prehistory.

Lower Valley researchers have subsequently grappled with where to place this culture in the local chronology based on its ceramics, earthen mounds, and habitations. Plaquemine cultural materials share some characteristics with other local cultures but differ significantly from Coles Creek and Mississippian
cultures of the Southeast. Plaquemine has consequently received the dubious distinction of being defined by the characteristics it lacks, rather than by those it possesses.

The current volume brings together eleven leading scholars devoted to shedding new light on Plaquemine and providing a clearer understanding of its relationship to other Native American cultures. The authors provide a thorough yet focused review of previous research, recent revelations, and directions for future research. They present pertinent new data on cultural variability and connections in the Lower Mississippi Valley and interpret the implications for similar cultures and cultural relationships. This volume finally places Plaquemine on the map, incontrovertibly demonstrating the accomplishments and importance of Plaquemine peoples in the long history of native North America.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Contents

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pp. v-vi

Figures

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pp. vii-ix

Tables

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pp. xi-

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xiv

I wish I could be sure when I ¤rst encountered the term Plaquemine, but it cannot be less than 50 years ago. Probably it occurred when I was in Ann Arbor in 1949–1950 with Jimmy Grif¤n, although I trust that my earlier Yalementor, Ben Rouse, could not have been ignorant of it either, due to his amazingly broad knowledge of world archaeology and his having been the editor...

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1. Introduction and Historical Overview

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pp. 1-19

The town of Plaquemine, Louisiana, seems an unassuming southern community for which to designate an entire culture. Of course names can be misleading and Plaquemine is no exception. Like Mississippian culture of southeastern North America, of which Plaquemine has been described as a regional focus or variant (Griffin 1946, 1967), Plaquemine was devised by archaeologists...

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2. Coles Creek Antecedents of Plaquemine Mound Construction: Evidence from the Raffman Site

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pp. 20-37

Plaquemine culture (ca. a.d. 1200–1700) developed in the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) at a time when the Mississippian cultural tradition dominated most of southeastern North America. Plaquemine culture shares traits such as maize horticulture and hierarchical social organization with Mississippian cultural variants throughout the Southeast (Brain 1989:133; Kidder 1993a). However,...

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3. Extraregional Contact and Cultural Interaction at the Coles Creek–Plaquemine Transition: Recent Data from the Lake Providence Mounds, East Carroll Parish, Louisiana

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pp. 38-65

The Lake Providence Mounds site (16EC6) is located in the upper Tensas Basin, 4.5 miles north of the town of Lake Providence, East Carroll Parish, Louisiana (Figure 3.1). What remains of the site lies beneath and immediately adjacent to the west side of the modern Mississippi River levee (known in the area as the Wilson Point New Levee) that was constructed through the region...

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4. Plaquemine Mounds of the Western Atchafalaya Basin

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pp. 66-93

When the Louisiana State Archaeological Survey began digging into the Medora mounds on the west bank of the Mississippi River in the winter of1939, Plaquemine was just a small river town around the next bend, thought to have been named for the wild persimmons that grew along the riverbanks (Riffel 1985:32). The cultural tradition of the people who built the mounds at...

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5. Transitional Coles Creek–Plaquemine Relationships on Northwest Lake Salvador, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana

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pp. 94-107

Despite the criticisms of the New Archaeologists about the use and implications of the taxonomic systems employed by culture historians (e.g., Binford and Binford 1966), the effective use of taxonomic terminology has continued to be a problem. There are several reasons for this. At least with regard to the Lower Mississippi Valley, Belmont (1982b:69–70) suggested the problem has...

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6. Plaquemine Recipes: Using Computer-Assisted Petrographic Analysis to Investigate Plaquemine Ceramic Recipes

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pp. 108-126

Archaeologists working in the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) have focused a great deal of energy on identifying, classifying, and explaining the Plaquemine-Mississippian dichotomy (Phillips 1970; Phillips et al. 1951; Williams and Brain 1983). The primary tool in this investigation has been ceramics, and the principal attribute is the presence or absence of shell tempering...

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7. Feasting on the Bluffs: Anna Site Excavations in the Natchez Bluffs of Mississippi

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pp. 127-144

Recent years have seen an explosion of archaeological theorizing regarding the nature and role of feasting in various cultures and societies (Dietler and Hay-den 2001). Much of this literature has focused on obligation, power, and display, often as a correlate of commensal politics, chiefly influence, and dichotomies of superior/inferior (Blitz 1993; Costin and Earle 1989; Dietler 2001;...

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8. Plaquemine Culture in the Natchez Bluffs Region of Mississippi

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pp. 145-160

In this study I explore the archaeological expression of Plaquemine culture along the loess bluff hills of southwest Mississippi (Figure 8.1). It was during late prehistoric times, circa A.D. 1200–1550, that this region experienced its greatest sociopolitical complexity, but the culture itself continued into historic times as reflected in the Natchez polity. Plaquemine is known to have developed...

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9. The Outer Limits of Plaquemine Culture: A View from the Northerly Borderlands

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pp. 161-195

Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) Plaquemine is one of several late prehistoric, multiregional cultural variants that archaeologists have generally regarded as distinct from, but interacting with, contemporary Mississippians.Coeval non-Mississippian archaeological cultures include Caddoan in theTrans-Mississippi South (TMS), plus Fort Ancient, Oneota, and Plains Villlage...

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10. Contemplating Plaquemine Culture

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pp. 196-205

The essays in this volume demonstrate that Plaquemine research is alive and well. Moreover, prospects for further research are excellent; new ideas are being explored and old ones put to the test. Central problems in Plaquemine research emphasized in these contributions include, Where does this society (or is it “these societies”?) come from? How do we identify, define, and...

References Cited

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pp. 207-258

Contributors

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pp. 259-260

Index

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pp. 261-266


E-ISBN-13: 9780817381462
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817353667

Publication Year: 2007

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Subject Headings

  • Louisiana -- Antiquities.
  • Mounds -- Mississippi.
  • Plaquemine pottery -- Louisiana.
  • Plaquemine pottery -- Mississippi.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Louisiana.
  • Plaquemine culture.
  • Mounds -- Louisiana.
  • Mississippi -- Antiquities.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Mississippi.
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