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Research at Fort Polk, 1972-2002
Fort Polk Military Reservation encompasses approximately 139,000 acres in western Louisiana 40 miles southwest of Alexandria. As a result of federal mandates for cultural resource investigation, more archaeological work has been undertaken there, beginning in the 1970s, than has occurred at any other comparably sized area in Louisiana or at most other localities in the southeastern United States. The extensive program of survey, excavation, testing, and large-scale data and artifact recovery, as well as historic and archival research, has yielded a massive amount of information. While superbly curated by the U.S. Army, the material has been difficult to examine and comprehend in its totality.
With this volume, Anderson and Smith collate and synthesize all the information into a comprehensive whole. Included are previous investigations, an overview of local environmental conditions, base military history and architecture, and the prehistoric and historic cultural sequence. An analysis of location, environmental, and assemblage data employing a sample of more than 2,800 sites and isolated finds was used to develop a predictive model that identifies areas where significant cultural resources are likely to occur. Developed in 1995, this model has already proven to be highly accurate and easy to use.
Archaeology, History, and Predictive Modeling will allow scholars to more easily examine the record of human activity over the past 13,000 or more years in this part of western Louisiana and adjacent portions of east Texas. It will be useful to southeastern archaeologists and anthropologists, both professional and amateur.
David G. Anderson is an archaeologist with the National Park Service's Southeast Archeological Center in Tallahassee, Florida, and coeditor of The Woodland Southeast. Steven D. Smith is with SCIAA in Columbia, South Carolina. J.W. Joseph and Mary Beth Reed are with New South Associates in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Cultural Change and Continuity in the Pre-Columbian Southeast
A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication
A 17th-century trading post and Indian town in central Georgia reveal evidence of culture contact and change.
Ocmulgee Old Fields near Macon, Georgia, is the site of a Lower Creek village and associated English trading house dating from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It was excavated in the early 1930s as part of a WPA project directed by A. R. Kelly, which focused primarily on the major Mississippian temple mounds of Macon Plateau. The specific data for the Old Fields was not analyzed until nearly 30 years after the excavation.
Part of the significance of this site lies in its secure identification with a known group of people and the linkage of those people with recognizable archaeological remains. The Old Fields site was among the very first for which this kind of identification was possible and stands at the head of a continuing tradition of historic sites archaeology in the Southeast.
Carol I. Mason's classic study of the Ocmulgee Old Fields site has been a model for contact-period Indian archaeology since the 1960s. The report includes a discussion of the historic setting and an analysis of the archaeological materials with an identification of the Lower Creek town and possibly of the English trader who lived there. Now, for the first time, the original report is widely available in book form. With a new foreword by the author and a new introduction from Southeastern archaeology expert Marvin T. Smith, readers have the benefit of a contemporary view of this very fine piece of careful scholarship.
Carol I. Mason is Adjunct Professor of Archaeology at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and author of Wisconsin Indians: Prehistory to Statehood. Marvin T. Smith is Professor of Anthropology at Valdosta State University and author of Coosa: The Rise and Fall of a Southeastern Mississippian Chiefdom.
"This volume is valuable as a landmark in Southeastern research. It is somewhat outdated in its archaeological comparisons, but it is an excellent source for site findings and historical documentation. . . . The book provides greater insight into more current documents on the topic of these early relationships between the Old and New Worlds in the Southeast. It is a starting point from which to move forward and is valuable as a catalyst for future research."—Southeastern Archaeology
" Mason's work presents the analysis and interpretation of a large body of material excavated by Works Progress Administration archaeologists during the 1930s and, in this case, continued into the 1940s. Large-scale projects, undertaken by field crews numbering in the hundreds of workers, amassed quantities of artifactual material and supporting documentation. In many instances, substantial amounts of material remain unanalyzed and unreported to this day. . . . The Ocmulgee Old Fields site with its mix of indigenous and European people, local material culture and trade goods, and varied functions represents an opportunity to study the Lower Creeks between 1670 and 1717. . . .I recommend (this volume) to all colleagues laboring to understand the early historic peiod in the Southeast."—The Florida Anthropologist
"A masterful blend of meticulous archaeological analysis and wide-ranging historical research . . . with extraordinary style and wisdom."—Journal of Field Archaeology
Chronology, Content, Contest
At its height the Moundville ceremonial center was a densely occupied town of approximately 1,000 residents, with at least 29 earthen mounds surrounding a central plaza. Today, Moundville is not only one the largest and best-preserved Mississippian sites in the United States, but also one of the most intensively studied. This volume brings together nine Moundville specialists who trace the site’s evolution and eventual decline.
Ocmulgee National Monument, Georgia
A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication
A premier mound site offers a wealth of primary data on mortuary practices in the Mississippian Period.The largest prehistoric mound site in Georgia is located in modern-day Macon and is known as Ocmulgee. It was first recorded in August 1739 by General James Oglethorpe’s rangers during an expedition to the territory of the Lower Creeks. The botanist William Bartram wrote extensively of the ecology of the area during his visit in 1773, but the 1873 volume by Charles C. Jones, Antiquities of the Southern Indians, Particularly of the Georgia Tribes, was the first to treat the archaeological significance of the site.
Professional excavations began at Ocmulgee in 1933 under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, using Civil Works Administration labor. Investigations continued under a variety of sponsorships until December 1936, when the locality was formally named a national monument. Excavation of the mounds, village sites, earth lodge, and funeral mound revealed an occupation of the Macon Plateau spanning more than 7,000 years. The funeral mound was found to contain log tombs, bundles of disarticulated bones, flexed burials, and cremations. Grave goods included uniquely patterned copper sun disks that were found at only one other site in the Southeast—the Bessemer site in Alabama—so the two ceremonial centers were established as contemporaries.
In this classic work of archaeological research and analysis, Charles Fairbanks has not only offered a full treatment of the cultural development and lifeways of the builders of Ocmulgee but has also related them effectively to other known cultures of the prehistoric Southeast.