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  • Caves and Culture: 10,000 Years of Ohio History
  • Terry A. Barnhart
Caves and Culture: 10,000 Years of Ohio History. Edited by Linda B. Spurlock, Olaf H. Prufer, and Thomas R. Pigott. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2006. vii, 463 pp. Cloth $45.00, ISBN 0-87338-865-8.)

Caves and rockshelters have been human habitats long before the dawn of recorded history and are potentially valuable archaeological resources if these sites have not been seriously disturbed. The cool temperatures found in dry caves and rockshelters on the whole encourage the preservation of human and faunal remains and can yield significant information about the human past. Yet it is misleading to think of the peoples who periodically lived in subterranean shelters as "cave dwellers" per se. Caves were seasonal habitation sites or camps, which were but part of larger patterns of year-round settlement and subsistence. Those who lived in caves did not do so exclusively and spent much of the year in open-air camps. The subsistence activities that took place in caves were only part of the inhabitants' total range of activities. Caves often contain the remains of repeated occupations by chronologically distinct cultures. Human, faunal, and artifactual remains [End Page 136] show that some caves and rockshelters in Ohio have been periodically occupied since the Pleistocene, providing an expanded frame of reference for Ohio history that predates the historical record by millennia.

The editors of this volume bring a wealth of field experience and anthropological acumen to their task. Linda B. Spurlock, a biological anthropologist who specializes in forensic art and fossil reconstruction, has worked on many archaeological projects in the northeastern United States. Oluf H. Prufer is professor of anthropology at Kent State University and the author of several monographs and journal articles relating to Ohio archaeology, including the "Krill Cave: a Stratified Rockshelter in Summit County" published 1989 and "Ohio and Raven Rocks: A Specialized Late Woodland Rockshelter Occupation in Belmont County, Ohio" in 1981. Thomas R. Pigott, an avocational archaeologist and the curator of the Sofsky Archives in Southington, Ohio, created most of the images of artifacts that appear as illustrations. Prufer, together with various research associates over the years, has made the caves and rockshelters of Ohio a specialized area of study since 1964.

Archaeologists have explored Ohio caves and rockshelters since the mid– nineteenth century, although the findings presented in Caves and Culture go well beyond all previous work. The editors address a number of archaeological problems associated with the use of caves and rockshelters in Ohio, and much of it is based on new, updated, and previously unreported research from such Ohio caves and rockshelters as Stow Rockshelter (Stow), Peters Cave (Ross County), Hendricks Cave (Wyandotte County), and Chesser Cave (Athens), among others. The materials found at the sites and the methods used to retrieve them have intrinsic interest in themselves, but the readers of Ohio History will probably find the concluding chapter on the ideology reflected in burial practices at these sites to be the most interesting. Caves and Culture takes its readers into a largely forgotten era of human existence in Ohio and integrates the activities that occurred in Ohio's caves and rockshelters within the larger culture history of Ohio and its region. [End Page 137]

Terry A. Barnhart
Eastern Illinois University