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Forager Interactions on the Edge of the Early Mississippian World: Neutron Activation Analysis of Ocmulgee and St. Johns Pottery

  • Keith Ashley (a1), Neill J. Wallis (a2) and Michael D. Glascock (a3)
Abstract

This study integrates disparate geographical areas of the American Southeast to show how studies of Early Mississippian (A.D. 900-1250) interactions can benefit from a multiscalar approach. Rather than focus on contact and exchanges between farming communities, as is the case with most Mississippian interaction studies, we turn our attention to social relations between village-dwelling St. Johns II fisher-hunter-gatherers of northeastern Florida and more mobile Ocmulgee foragers of southern-central Georgia; non-neighboring groups situated beyond and within the southeastern edge of the Mississippian world, respectively. We draw upon neutron activation analysis data to document the presence of both imported and locally produced Ocmulgee Cordmarked wares in St. Johns II domestic and ritual contexts. Establishing social relations with Ocmulgee households or kin groups through exchange and perhaps marriage would have facilitated St. Johns II access into the Early Mississippian world and enabled them to acquire the exotic copper, stone, and other minerals found in St. Johns mortuary mounds. This study underscores the multiscalarity of past societies and the importance of situating local histories in broader geographical contexts.

Résumé

Al integrar dos regiones geográficas distintas del Sudeste Norteamericano, este estudio demuestra como las investigaciones sobre interacciones humanas durante el período Misisipiano Inicial (900-1250 d.C.) pueden beneficiarse de una orientación multiescalar. En lugar de enfocarnos en las situaciones de contacto e intercambio entre comunidades de agricultores, como es el caso en la mayoría de estudios sobre interactión durante el Misisipiano, nos enfocarnos en las relaciones sociales entre los habitantes de las comunidades de pescadores-cazadores-recolectores del período St. Johns II del Noreste de Florida y las comunidades itinerantes de recolectores Ocmulgee del área Centro Sur del estado de Georgia; grupos no adyacentes entre sí, dentro y más allá de la frontera Sudeste del mundo Misisipiano respectivamente. Recurrimos al análisis de activación por neutrones para documentar la presencia de cerámicas Ocmulgee importadas y producidas localmente, las mismas que son decoradas con cordones en relieve, en los contextos rituales y domésticos de St. Johns II. El establecimiento de relaciones sociales entre las unidades domésticos o grupos de parentesco a través de intercambio o quizá matrimonio, habría facilitado el acceso de las sociedades St. Johns II a la órbita del Misisipiano Inicial y les habría permitido adquirir materiales exóticos como el cobre, las piedras, y otros minerales que han sido hallados en los montículos funerarios de St. Johns II. Este estudio destaca la característica multiescalar de las antiguas sociedades precolombinas y la importancia de situar las historias locales en contextos geográficos extensos.

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