ATH 242-01

Late prehistoric cultures: Fort Ancient and Mississippian

Fort Ancient

  • AD 1000 – 1650
  • this period of time known as Late Prehistoric
  • In the past, Ft. Ancient were thought of as rural Mississippians
  • Ft. Ancient is now seen as developing out of Late Woodland
  • Culture area: largely SWOH, NEKY, OH Riv.

Economy

  • maize agriculture, supplemented with beans and squash
  • some hunting to provide protein in diet
  • agriculture is a risky economic strategy
  • limiting factors include:
    • animals
    • drought
    • freezing
    • soil depletion

Buffering mechanisms

  • Swidden agriculture (slash-n-burn)
  • sites are often reoccupied
  • maize grown on hills or ridges
  • maize, beans & squash grown together
  • shortfalls countered with use of EAC plants, nuts, hunting, and exchange

warfare

  • many villages are palisaded or on bluff tops
  • warfare does not seem to increase
  • skeletal evidence? Only 6% exhibit traumatic injuries
  • represents blood feuds between individuals, clans or villages

Hardin Village (Ft. Ancient) vs…

  • 60% mortality by 3-4
  • 54% mortality by 17
  • life expectancy is 16
  • higher mortality for all age groups
  • less arthritis, less stress on bone, fewer injuries
  • cavities (48%)
  • metabolic disease

…vs. Indian Knoll (Late Miss.)

  • 70% mortality by 1
  • 45% mortality by 17
  • life expectancy is 18
  • more injuries
  • cavities (11%)

Stockades

Astronomical alignments at Sunwatch

Mississippian period

  • AD 1000-1700
  • a ranked level of socio-cultural integration
  • maize-dominated field agriculture
  • primarily middle MS riv valley, lower OH Riv valley, TN-Cumberland valley

ranked societies

  • redistributive economy
  • people hold ranked, ascribed status
  • at its most extreme, burial includes human sacrifice
  • hierarchical social order reflected in hierarchical settlement patterns

traditional settlement model

Cahokia -> 2nd tier mound centers -> 3d tier mound centers -> outlying centers

  • East of St. Louis
  • greatest chiefdom north of Mexico
  • prominence AD 900-1300
  • population 30k-40k
  • gateway to northwestern frontier

Monk’s Mound *

  • largest mound at Cahokia
  • covers 16 acres
  • over 100 ft high at top
  • structures placed on top
  • base & total volume is larger than largest EG pyramid
  • area around mound enclosed by palisades

Mound 72 *

  • ridge-top mound
  • burials accompanied by exotic goods
  • one burial placed on 20k shell beads

Woodhenge *

  • circle of posts for observing sun
  • rebuilt 4 or 5 times over 200 years
  • observed equinoxes & solstices
  • on equinox, posts align with Monk’s Mound
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