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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.
Central America before the Spanish Conquest has often been considered by North American archaeologists as a “backwater” of peripheral importance located between the advanced ancient civilizations of South America and Mesoamerica (Mexican–Maya country). Recent archaeological research has revealed that this area played a much more significant role in New World cultural history than was previously thought. Healy’s study examines the archaeological record of one subarea of Southern Central America, the Rivas region of Pacific Nicaragua. The work gives a detailed analysis of excavations and of artifacts recovered at seven significant prehistoric sites. A critical pioneering effort, the monograph documents cultural changes occurring over a 2,000–year time period—changes in technology, material culture, settlement, subsistence, and socio–political organization.
Explorations of the Sacred in the Pre-Columbian Andes
In this edited volume, Andean wak'as—idols, statues, sacred places, images, and oratories—play a central role in understanding Andean social philosophies, cosmologies, materialities, temporalities, and constructions of personhood. Top Andean scholars from a variety of disciplines cross regional, theoretical, and material boundaries in their chapters, offering innovative methods and theoretical frameworks for interpreting the cultural particulars of Andean ontologies and notions of the sacred.
Wak'as were understood as agentive, nonhuman persons within many Andean communities and were fundamental to conceptions of place, alimentation, fertility, identity, and memory and the political construction of ecology and life cycles. The ethnohistoric record indicates that wak'as were thought to speak, hear, and communicate, both among themselves and with humans. In their capacity as nonhuman persons, they shared familial relations with members of the community, for instance, young women were wed to local wak'as made of stone and wak'as had sons and daughters who were identified as the mummified remains of the community's revered ancestors.
Integrating linguistic, ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and archaeological data, The Archaeology of Wak'as advances our understanding of the nature and culture of wak'as and contributes to the larger theoretical discussions on the meaning and role of–"the sacred” in ancient contexts.
The Discipline of Things
Archaeology has always been marked by its particular care, obligation, and loyalty to things. While archaeologists may not share similar perspectives or practices, they find common ground in their concern for objects monumental and mundane. This book considers the myriad ways that archaeologists engage with things in order to craft stories, both big and small, concerning our relations with materials and the nature of the past.
Literally the "science of old things," archaeology does not discover the past as it was but must work with what remains. Such work involves the tangible mediation of past and present, of people and their cultural fabric, for things cannot be separated from society. Things are us. This book does not set forth a sweeping new theory. It does not seek to transform the discipline of archaeology. Rather, it aims to understand precisely what archaeologists do and to urge practitioners toward a renewed focus on and care for things.
Contact, Commerce, and Change in the U.S. Southwest and Northwestern Mexico
Archaeology without Borders presents new research by leading U.S. and Mexican scholars and explores the impacts on archaeology of the border between the United States and Mexico. Including data previously not readily available to English-speaking readers, the twenty-four essays discuss early agricultural adaptations in the region and groundbreaking archaeological research on social identity and cultural landscapes, as well as economic and social interactions within the area now encompassed by northern Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. Contributors examining early agriculture offer models for understanding the transition to agriculture, explore relationships between the spread of agriculture and Uto-Aztecan migrations, and present data from Arizona, New Mexico, and Chihuahua. Contributors focusing on social identity discuss migration, enculturation, social boundaries, and ethnic identities. They draw on case studies that include diverse artifact classes - rock art, lithics, architecture, murals, ceramics, cordage, sandals, baskets, faunal remains, and oral histories. Mexican scholars present data from Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Michoacan, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon. They address topics including Spanish-indigenous conflicts, archaeological history, cultural landscapes, and interactions among Mesoamerica, northern Mexico, and the U.S. Southwest.
Current Approaches and New Perspectives
Presenting the latest in archaeometallurgical research in a Mesoamerican context, Archaeometallurgy in Mesoamerica brings together up-to-date research from the most notable scholars in the field. These contributors analyze data from a variety of sites, examining current approaches to the study of archaeometallurgy in the region as well as new perspectives on the significance metallurgy and metal objects had in the lives of its ancient peoples.
The chapters are organized following the cyclical nature of metals—beginning with extracting and mining ore, moving to smelting and casting of finished objects, and ending with recycling and deterioration back to the original state once the object is no longer in use. Data obtained from archaeological investigations, ethnohistoric sources, ethnographic studies, along with materials science analyses, are brought to bear on questions related to the integration of metallurgy into local and regional economies, the sacred connotations of copper objects, metallurgy as specialized crafting, and the nature of mining, alloy technology, and metal fabrication.
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.
The structures of Chaco Canyon, built by native peoples between AD 850 and 1130, are among the most compelling ancient monuments on earth. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, these magnificent ruins are consistently featured in scholarly books and popular media. Yet, like Chaco itself, these buildings are anomalous in Southwestern archaeology and much debated.
In a century of study, our understanding and means of approaching these ruins have grown considerably. Important tree-ring dating, GIS research, and computer imaging point to the need for a new volume on Chaco architecture that unifies older information with the new.
The chapters in this volume focus on Chaco Great Houses and consider three overlapping themes: studies of technology and building types, analyses of architectural change, and readings of the built environment. To aid reconsideration there are over 150 maps, floor plans, elevations, and photos, including a number of color illustrations.