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Coalescent Communities: Settlement Aggregation and Social Integration in Iroquoian Ontario

  • Jennifer Birch (a1)

This paper explores processes of settlement aggregation among ancestral Huron-Wendat populations in south-central Ontario, Canada. During the fifteenth century A.D., numerous small communities came together, forming large, fortified village aggregates. In order to understand these processes a multiscalar analytical approach was combined with a conceptual framework emphasizing cross-cultural perspectives on coalescent societies, the archaeology of communities, and historical trajectories of societal change. Regional settlement data are presented to illustrate the movement and increasing size of settlements. In order to determine how individual coalescent communities were formed and maintained, a single village relocation sequence is examined in detail. This sequence illustrates how people constructed, inhabited, and negotiated domestic and public spaces in these new community aggregates. Detailed analyses of the occupational histories of these sites point to the creation of new community-based identities, corporate decision-making structures, and increasing social integration over time. The results of this study demonstrate that while settlement aggregation can be documented at the regional level, only detailed intrasite analyses can identify the small-scale changes in practice that reflect the lived experience of coalescence.


Este trabajo explora los procesos de asentamiento agregado entre las poblaciones ancestrales Hurón en el centro-sur de Ontario, Canadá. Durante el siglo XV de nuestra era, se unieron numerosas comunidades pequeñas, formando grandes agregados, con pueblos fortificados. Con el fin de documentar y teorizar este proceso se utilizó un enfoque de análisis de escala múltiple, junto con un marco conceptual haciendo hincapié en las perspectivas interculturales en las sociedades coalescentes, la arqueología de las comunidades y las trayectorias históricas de cambio social. Los datos regionales de solución se presentan para ilustrar el creciente tamaño y movimiento hacia el norte a finales de los asentamientos de pre-contacto. Con el fin de determinar cómo las comunidades individuales coalescentes se forman y se mantienen, se realiza una secuencia única de reubicación del pueblo, y se examinan los detalles de cómo las personas construyen, habitan y negocian los espacios domesticos y públicos en estos agregados de una nueva comunidad. Se realiza un análisis detallado de las historias laborales de estos sitios, las cuales apuntan a la creación de nuevas identidades basadas en la comunidad, las empresas de toma de decisiones y el aumento de la integración social a través del tiempo. Los resultados de este estudio demuestran que, si bien los asentamientos de agregación pueden ser documentados a nivel regional, sólo se detallan los análisis dentro del sitio en donde se pueden identificar los cambios a pequeña escala en la práctica, los cuales reflejan la experiencia vivida en coalescencia o asentamientos agregados.

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