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Beyond Squier and Davis: Rediscovering Ohio's Earthworks Using Geophysical Remote Sensing

  • Jarrod Burks (a1) and Robert A. Cook (a2)
Abstract

The prehistoric earthworks of Ohio have played a major role in the development of American archaeology and they continue to figure prominently in archaeological research. However, while a select group of larger earthwork sites have been intensively studied and resurveyed with geophysical survey instruments, much of the ongoing earthwork research, and reference to less-well-known sites, still relies on nineteenth-and early twentieth-century maps. In this article, we present the results of magnetic gradient surveys at three earthwork complexes in south central Ohio. Though much degraded by agricultural plowing and other historic impacts, our survey results show that despite near invisibility at the surface, Ohio's earthwork sites are (1) readily detected in geophysical surveys, (2) more complex than most early maps suggest, and (3) more numerous and varied than once thought. Given the major role these sites have taken on in studies that explore topics ranging from community structure and burial ceremonialism to population mobility and the development of socioeconomic complexity, a radical redrafting of the nineteenth-century maps could have far-reaching implications in the study of Woodland period (specifically, ca. 300 B.C.-A.D. 500) cultures in the Midwest U.S.

Resumen

Las prehistóricas formaciones de tierra de Ohio han tenido un papel muy importante para el desarrollo de arqueología americana y siguen siendo un tema relevante en esta disciplina. Profusa investigación actual y referencia a los sitios pocos conocidos todavía dependen de los mapas de los siglos XIX y XX temprano, sin embargo un grupo selecto de grandes formaciones ha sido estudiado intensivamente y reanalizado con instrumentos de geofísica. En este artículo, presentamos los resultados de las prospecciones de gradiente magnetic en tres sitios con formaciones de tierra, ubicados en el centro surde Ohio. Sin embargo, dichas formaciones se encuentran bien degradadaspor la agricultura mecanizada y otros impactos históricos. Los resultados de nuestra prospección muestran que no obstante su casi invisibilidad en la superficie, las formaciones de tierra son (1) fácilmente detectadas con las prospecciones geofísicas; (2) más complejas que lo que la mayoría de los antiguos mapas indican; y (3) más numerosas y más variadas de lo que se pensaba. Por su peso, estos sitios han tenido en la historia de la investigación arqueológica una marca colosal sobre muchos temas tales como: estruetura comunitaria, ceremonialismo funerario, movilidad de poblaciones y desarrollo de la complejidad socioeconómica. Por lo tanto, un cambio radical de los mapas del siglo XIX pudiera impactar profundamente el estudio de las culturas del periodo Woodland (específicamente, circa 300 a.C. hasta 500 d.C.) del medio oeste de los Estados Unidos Americanos.

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