Changing Perspectives on the Archaeology of the Central by Michael J. O'Brien, Robert C. Dunnell

By Michael J. O'Brien, Robert C. Dunnell

Fourteen specialists learn the present nation of crucial Valley prehistoric examine and supply an incredible touchstone for destiny archaeological research of the quarter. The Mississippi Valley area has lengthy performed a serious function within the improvement of yankee archaeology and remains to be widely recognized for the main examine of the early Nineteen Fifties. To convey the archaeological checklist modern, fourteen significant Valley specialists deal with assorted themes together with the distribution of artifacts around the panorama, inner configurations of enormous fortified settlements, human-bone chemistry, and ceramic expertise. The authors exhibit that a lot is to be realized from the wealthy and sundry archaeological checklist of the zone and that the equipment and strategies used to review the checklist have replaced dramatically during the last part century. working on the leading edge of present examine options, those archaeologists offer a clean examine previous difficulties in primary Mississippi Valley research.   

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At one level, phases are "practical and intelligible unit[s] of study" (Willey and Phillips 1958:22), but, as Fox points out in Chapter 2, once they take on lives of their own, they are difficult to modify. One of the problems in central Mississippi Valley archaeology has been the incredible growth in phase names since the 1950sa growth that has not followed the slow, deliberate procedure envisioned by Willey and Phillips. Instead, the nomenclature has grown like Topsy, with the vexing result that the literature is replete with phase names, the majority of which have lasted only a short time before being replaced.

The remarkable state of preservation of Turner and its potential for addressing numerous questions about Mississippian life in the central Mississippi Valley were obvious, and between 1966 and 1976 it and another village, Snodgrass (Figure 1-6), were excavated almost in their entirety (Price 1973; Price and Griffin 1979). Also, more than 200 square kilometers of the Little Black River drainage was surveyed, and eighty Mississippian-period sites were located (Price 1974, 1978). While the above-mentioned work was going on in the Western Lowlands, University of Missouri personnel were working at Beckwith's Fort, the largest fortified settlement in southeastern Missouri, and at Lilbourn, the secondlargest fortified settlement.

These were important additions to the list of types because they were in most cases northern variants not recognized in the survey of Phillips, Ford, and Griffin. Williams's essentialist thinking on phases, as on pottery types, was clear: "the O'Bryan Ridge phase is not considered the first phase in the region, but since only very scattered remains seem to indicate a prior occupation, they will be discussed later" (Williams 1954:31; emphasis added). Here Williams was referring to a phase as a real entity, comprising real artifacts, as opposed to an arbitrary construct.

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