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Settlement, Ceremony, and Status in the Deep South, A.D. 350 to 750

Written by Thomas J. Pluckhahn

Publication Year: 2003

The first comprehensive and systematic investigation of a Woodland period ceremonial center. Kolomoki, one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the southeastern United States, includes at least nine large earthen mounds in the lower Chattahoochee River valley of southwest Georgia. The largest, Mound A, rises approximately 20 meters above the terrace that borders it. From its flat-topped summit, a visitor can survey the string of smaller mounds that form an arc to the south and west. Archaeological research had previously placed Kolomoki within the Mississippian period (ca. a.d. 1000-1500) primarily because of the size and form of the mounds. But this book presents data for the main period of occupation and mound construction that confirm an earlier date, in the Woodland period (ca. a.d. 350-750). Even though the long-standing confusion over Kolomoki's dating has now been settled, questions remain regarding the lifeways of its inhabitants. Thomas Pluckhahn's research has recovered evidence concerning the level of site occupation and the house styles and daily lives of its dwellers. He presents here a new, revised history of Kolomoki from its founding to its eventual abandonment, with particular attention to the economy and ceremony at the settlement. This study makes an important contribution to the understanding of 'middle range' societies, particularly the manner in which ceremony could both level and accentuate status differentiation within them. It provides a readable overview of one of the most important--but historically least understood--prehistoric Native American sites in the United States. Thomas J. Pluckhahn is Instructor in Anthropology at the University of Georgia and an archaeologist with Southeastern Archeological Services, Inc.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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p. v-v

Figures and Tables

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pp. vii-xi

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pp. xiii-xv

I am indebted to many people for their contributions to this book. First and foremost, I must thank my major professor, Steve Kowalewski, for his unwavering support and enthusiasm. We never succeeded in getting Steve to set foot in a square hole, but he participated in virtually every other stage of the project, from proposal writing to cutting transit lines and back-filling...

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1. An Introduction to Kolomoki

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pp. 1-14

Kolomoki—formerly known as the Mercier Mounds—is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the southeastern United States (Figure 1.1). The site, located in the lower Chattahoochee Valley of southwestern Georgia, includes at least nine mounds (Figure 1.2). The largest of these (Mound A) rises some 56 ft (17 m) from the broad, high terrace on which the site is located...

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2. Putting Kolomoki in Its Place: Defining the Temporal, Ecological, and Cultural Contexts

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pp. 15-46

Before considering my work and that of others at Kolomoki, it is important to place the site in its proper context. This chapter begins with a revised view of the temporal placement of the site. I then turn to a summary of the environmental and cultural settings...

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3. Preliminary Definition of Activity Areas at Kolomoki: Summary of Previous Research

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pp. 47-90

In the minds of most archaeologists, Kolomoki is inextricably linked with William H. Sears, who conducted excavations at the site during the middle twentieth century. Indeed, it is through Sears’s work that much of what we know about the site has come to light. However, unbeknownst to many, a number of other prominent archaeologists have worked at Kolomoki over the years...

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4. Defining Activity Areas at Kolomoki: Results of Intensive Sampling

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pp. 91-125

Having examined the context for Kolomoki, as well as previous work at the site, I next turn to a consideration of intrasite settlement based on my own field research. As was noted in Chapter 1, the initial aim in returning to Kolomoki was to define the site limits and activity areas. The sampling program...

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5. Characterizing Activity Areas at Kolomoki: Results of Test Excavations and Geophysical Prospection

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pp. 126-145

The intensive sampling program discussed in the previous chapter successfully defined a number of activity areas at Kolomoki and provided some preliminary indications concerning the spatial distribution of components. In the next phase of research, my colleagues and I conducted larger test excavations and geophysical prospection in selected off-mound portions of the site...

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6. Examining a Domestic Activity Area at Kolomoki: Results of Small Block Excavations

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pp. 146-179

The final phase of my recent investigations at Kolomoki focused on the identification and excavation of a domestic structure. Such an excavation was deemed necessary for two basic reasons. First, the excavation of a household was key to answering fundamental questions regarding the permanence of occupation at the site...

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7. Kolomoki as a Historical Process

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pp. 180-222

The preceding chapters lay the foundation for the consideration of Kolomoki as a historical process. I began by examining the temporal, environmental, and cultural context for the site (Chapter 2). Seriation of the ceramic assemblage supports the division of the Woodland period occupation of the site into four 100- year phases (Kolomoki I through IV) covering the interval from a.d. 350 to 750...


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pp. 223-226

References Cited

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pp. 227-250


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pp. 251-264

E-ISBN-13: 9780817382223
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817350178

Publication Year: 2003