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Ceramics, Chronology, and Community Patterns

An Archaeological Study at Moundville

Written by Vincas P. Steponaitis

Publication Year: 2009

Moundville, located on the Black Warrior River in west-central Alabama, is one of the best known and most intensively studied archaeological sites in North America. Yet, in spite of all these investigations, many aspects of the site's internal chronology remained unknown until the original 1983 publication of this volume. The author embarked on a detailed study of Moundville ceramics housed in museums and collections, and hammered out a new chronology for Moundville.This volume is a clearly written description of the analytical procedures employed on these ceramic samples and the new chronology this study revealed. Using the refined techniques outlined in this volume, it was possible for the author to trace changes in community patterns, which in turn shed light on Moundville's internal development and its place among North America's ancient cultures.

This volume is a clearly written description of the analytical procedures employed on these ceramic samples and the new chronology this study revealed. Using the refined techniques outlined in this volume, it was possible for the author to trace changes in community patterns, which in turn shed light on Moundville's internal development and its place among North America's ancient cultures.


Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. vii-ix

Illustrations

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pp. xi-xiii

Tables

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pp. xv-xvi

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Preface

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pp. xvi-xviii

Moundville, located on the Black Warrior River in west-central Alabama, is one of the best known and most intensively studied prehistoric sites in North America. It first gained wide recognition just after the turn of the century, when it was visited, excavated, and reported on by C. B. Moore. Later, during the Great Depression, large-scale excavations at Moundville produced a...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xix-xxi

The present endeavor is actually part of a larger project that was organized by Christopher Peebles in 1977. The overall aim of the project was to attain a better understanding of the Moundville phase, particularly with regard to questions concerning the development and decline of the complex Mississippian society that the phase appeared to represent. At its inception, the...

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Preface to the New Edition

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pp. xxiii-xxx

This book grew out of my involvement with the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology’s Moundville Project led by Christopher Peebles in the late 1970s. At the outset, Moundville’s chronology was poorly understood and it was my role to fix this problem. I was acutely aware that a finer chronology was essential not only for my own purposes, but also for all the other research being conducted under the...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-15

In the tenth and eleventh centuries A.D., there developed along the interior river valleys of southeastern North America a number of societies that are now called Mississippian. It is well known that the Mississippian people were sedentary farmers who grew maize and other crops. It is also generally accepted that these people possessed a relatively complex social organization...

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2. Ceramic Technology

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pp. 17-45

Despite the many obligatory references to Anna Shepard in the literature, detailed technological studies of Mississippian pottery have been few and far between. Two people have been mainly responsible for what little recent work on this subject there is. Porter, for one, has published a number of thin-section descriptions of Mississippian pottery from southern Illinois and elsewhere...

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3. Classification of Moundville Ceramics

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pp. 47-78

Dimensions 1 and 4, though formulated with reference to different sorts of criteria, are classifications of whole artifacts, whether vessels or sherds. Dimensions 2, 3, 5, and 6, on the other hand, subsume categories that operate at a different level. These categories refer not to whole artifacts as such, but rather to features or aspects of whole artifacts that mayor may not be present...

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4. Ceramic Chronology

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pp. 79-132

The late prehistoric chronology in the Black Warrior drainage is schematically set forth in Figure 23. Here we are concerned only with the span of time between A.D. 900 and 1700, beginning with the terminal phase in the Late Woodland period, and lasting through the Mississippi period up until the onset of European colonization. The period names on the left side of the diagram...

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5. Community Patterns at Moundville

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pp. 133-161

With the ceramic chronology now established, let us turn to the subject of how the size and configuration of the Moundville site changed through time. All the evidence gathered thus far suggests that people at Moundville were usually buried in close proximity to residential areas-in the floors of dwellings, just outside the dwellings' walls, or in cemeteries nearby (Jones and...

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6. Conclusion: A Regional Perspective

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pp. 163-174

The region I will be concerned with includes the entire Black Warrior drainage, from its headwaters near Birmingham to its confluence with the Tombigbee River near Demopolis. The chapter begins with a brief sketch of the region's late prehistory-outlining the major trends in subsistence, settlement, and organization-and concludes with a consideration of factors that...

Vessel and Sherd Illustrations

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pp. 175-225

Appendix A: Individual Vessel Descriptions

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pp. 229-265

Appendix B: Vessels Indexed by Burial Number

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pp. 267-282

Appendix C: Stratigraphic Level Descriptions

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pp. 283-288

Appendix D: Sherd Frequencies by Level

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pp. 289-295

Appendix E: Methods for Measuring Physical Properties

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pp. 297-300

Appendix F: Type-Variety Descriptions

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pp. 301-341

Appendix G: Vessels Indexed by Type and Variety

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pp. 343-348

Appendix H: Vessels Indexed by Dimensions Other Than by Type and Variety

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pp. 349-357

References

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pp. 359-368

Index

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pp. 369-375


E-ISBN-13: 9780817382506
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817355760

Page Count: 406
Publication Year: 2009

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Subject Headings

  • Mississippian culture -- Alabama -- Black Warrior River Valley.
  • Moundville Archaeological Park (Moundville, Ala.).
  • Mississippian pottery -- Alabama -- Black Warrior River Valley.
  • Black Warrior River Valley (Ala.) -- Antiquities.
  • Land settlement patters, Prehistoric -- Alabama -- Black Warrior River Valley.
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