By Asa R. Randall
“Changes the best way archaeologists conceptualize the dynamic relationships among hunter-gatherers and cultural landscapes in local North the United States. anyone attracted to hunter-gatherer societies, panorama archaeology, historical monuments, anthropogenic environments, the archaeology and environmental heritage of Florida and the yank South, and the heritage of North American archaeology may still learn this book.”—Christopher B. Rodning, coeditor of Archaeological reviews of Gender within the Southeastern United States
huge accumulations of historic shells on coastlines and riverbanks have been lengthy thought of the results of rubbish disposal in the course of repeated nutrients gatherings through early population of the southeastern usa. during this volume, Asa R. Randall provides the 1st new theoretical framework for studying such middens given that Ripley Bullen’s seminal paintings sixty years in the past. He convincingly posits that those historic “garbage dumps” have been really burial mounds, ceremonial accumulating areas, and sometimes habitation areas vital to the histories and social geography of the hunter-gatherer societies who outfitted them.
Synthesizing greater than one hundred fifty years of shell mound investigations and glossy distant sensing facts, Randall rejects the long-standing ecological interpretation and redefines those websites as socially major monuments that demonstrate formerly unknown complexities concerning the hunter-gatherer societies of the Mount Taylor interval (ca. 7400–4600 cal. B.P.). plagued by weather switch and elevated scales of social interplay, the region’s population transformed the panorama in fantastic and significant methods. This pioneering quantity provides another historical past from which emerge wealthy information about the day-by-day actions, ceremonies, and burial rituals of the archaic St. Johns River cultures.
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Additional resources for Constructing Histories: Archaic Freshwater Shell Mounds and Social Landscapes of the St. Johns River, Florida
Yet Wyman also offers a pragmatic resolution to the shell mound contradiction by introducing a dichotomy: in contrast to the sand burial mounds, which manifestly demonstrate intentionality and forethought, shell mounds singularly represent the cumulative result of food collection and refuse deposition. He even extended this deductive logic to the human remains he uncovered amidst the shell mounds. Human bones were often found as fragments, not whole inhumations, leading Wyman to argue that their disposition was direct evidence for cannibalism (Wyman 1874, 1875: 67–71).
As noted by Gamble (2007: 24–26), archaeologists since the time of V. , Neolithic, Urban, Industrial), characterized by rapid change, interspersed with long periods of gradual change. Gamble argues that revolutions serve two functions in archaeological interpretation. First, they provide a container for organizing concepts and observations into a manageable network (Gamble 2007: 19). As a collection of related issues, such problems can be studied without reference to past conditions. Second, revolutions provide “locomotives of change,” as explanations for how the Western world as we know it came into being by successively transcending tradition and primitiveness (Gamble 2007: 13–14).
The record of the St. Johns is actually quite germane in the history of archaeology: modern shell mound studies in America were born through the careful consideration of St. Johns shell mound stratigraphy and contents by Jeffries Wyman. I argue in chapter 1 that common interpretations of shell mounds today (that they are trash heaps) and ancient hunter-gatherers (that they were socially simple and ahistorical) emerged in the nineteenth century, and likely much earlier. An emphasis on gradual change through time and environmental causality has promoted a particular kind of historical perspective on ancient shellfishers.