- The Archaeology of the Caddo ed. by Timothy K. Perttula, Chester P. Walker
This volume is a compilation of essays on various aspects of the archaeology of the Caddo Indians of East Texas, northeast Louisiana, eastern Oklahoma and southwest Arkansas. The purpose of the book is to bring attention to new approaches and themes that provide broader understanding specific areas of study. In his introduction chapter to the book Perttula presents a brief synthesis of Caddo archaeology from its foggy beginnings some 2,500 years ago to historic times to provide context for the chapters that follow. The fifteen chapters cover a variety of topics including ceramics, diet, Caddo communities and community evolution, settlement patterns, and historic period Caddo archaeology. It is not possible to critique each chapter in the space of this review, so only specific chapters will be examined.
Caddo pottery has received most of the attention in the history of Caddo archeology through typological analyses. Ann Early takes a new approach and discusses form and structure in Caddo pottery design. From its design organization and structure, she notes that the underlying principles have deep roots in Caddo culture [End Page 91] and may reflect organizational principles identified in other aspects of Caddo society and culture.
One of the more timely and informative chapters is Diane Wilson’s chapter on bioarchaeology. She uses dental wear, dental caries, and bone chemistry to test for the importance of maize in Caddo diet from East Texas skeletal samples. Her results show that corn became increasingly important part of the diet beginning in the early Caddo period, but that the amount of corn consumed varied across the region.
James Brown presents some new and compelling interpretations regarding the function of the Great Mortuary at Spiro. Brown no longer views the Craig Mound as a mortuary mound in the traditional sense, but considers it a geographic and cosmological monument. He suggests that the elaborate objects interred there were made or acquired specifically for the event.
The geomorphology of many Caddo sites in East Texas often provide ideal situations for the uses of non-destructive geophysical tools and for broad exposures of occupation area. Archaeogeophysics information on three Caddo settlements, George C. Davis, Hill Farm, and the Battle Mound, is the subject of a chapter by Chet Walker and Duncan McKinnon. The geophysical data were compared to the historic Terán map and Will Soule’s nineteenth-century photographs of a Caddo household. The evolution of a Caddo community at Oak Hill Village in Rusk County by Tim Perttula and Robert Rogers provides a perspective of the growth and evolution of a Caddo community. Archaeologists have known the shape of Caddo houses but not of the structure of communities as a whole. Perttula and Rogers examine the evolution of the fully excavated Oak Hill Village site. Together these studies not only reveal structural aspects of Caddo communities, but also provide a road map for future investigations of Caddo village sites.
The book chapters are for the most part specific studies of the kind that are often generated through conference symposia and do not cover all aspects of Caddo archaeology. It will be of particular interest to readers interested in Caddo archaeology and history in the four state area inhabited by the Caddo people. The importance of the book is the level of detail provided in most of the chapters, which present a comprehensive perspective of Caddo archaeology. In that regard the purpose of the book perhaps was achieved. Classes of material culture most often reported on in Caddo archaeology are ceramics, houses, burials, and mounds. If the reader seeks information on Caddo lithic technology and the economic and technological information derived from such studies, he will have to go elsewhere as none of the chapters addresses this important material category in any detail.