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Analyses of big datasets signal important directions for the archaeology of religion in the Archaic to Mississippian Native North America

Across North America, huge data accumulations derived from decades of cultural resource management studies, combined with old museum collections, provide archaeologists with unparalleled opportunities to explore new questions about the lives of ancient native peoples. For many years the topics of technology, economy, and political organization have received the most research attention, while ritual, religion, and symbolic expression have largely been ignored. This was often the case because researchers considered such topics beyond reach of their methods and data.

In Archaeology and Ancient Religion in the American Midcontinent, editors Brad H. Koldehoff and Timothy R. Pauketat and their contributors demonstrate that this notion is outdated through their analyses of a series of large datasets from the midcontinent, ranging from tiny charred seeds to the cosmic alignments of mounds, they consider new questions about the religious practices and lives of native peoples. At the core of this volume are case studies that explore religious practices from the Cahokia area and surrounding Illinois uplands. Additional chapters explore these topics using data collected from sites and landscapes scattered along the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.

This innovative work facilitates a greater appreciation for, and understanding of, ancient native religious practices, especially their seamless connections to everyday life and livelihood. The contributors do not advocate for a reduced emphasis on technology, economy, and political organization; rather, they recommend expanding the scope of such studies to include considerations of how religious practices shaped the locations of sites, the character of artifacts, and the content and arrangement of sites and features. They also highlight analytical approaches that are applicable to archaeological datasets from across the Americas and beyond.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817319960
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Series: Archaeology of the American South: New Directions and Perspectives Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Brad H. Koldehoff is the chief archaeologist and cultural resources unit chief at the Illinois Department of Transportation and a research assistant at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey and the Illinois State Museum. Koldehoff has written numerous technical reports about Mississippi Valley archaeological sites, including Cahokia, as well as journal articles and book chapters.

Timothy R. Pauketat is a professor of anthropology and medieval studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a visiting research scientist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey. Pauketat is one of the foremost experts on Cahokia and particularly esteemed for theoretical perspectives on early urbanism, religion, and the relational ontologies of Woodland and Mississippian peoples of eastern North America. A prolific author and editor, representative publications include An Archaeology of the Cosmos: Rethinking Agency and Religion in Ancient America, Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi, and The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface by Brad H. Koldehoff and Timothy R. Pauketat

Introduction: An Archaeology of Ancient Religious Practices by Brad H. Koldehoff and Timothy R. Pauketat

Chapter 1. From Tubes to Platforms: Transformations in Early Smoking Pipes and Ancient Rituals by Brad H. Koldehoff and Kenneth B. Farnsworth

Chapter 2. From Caches to Gatherings: The Relationality of Intentionally Deposited Objects in Mississippian Buildings by Melissa Baltus

Chapter 3. Magic Plants and Mississippian Ritual by Kathryn E. Parker and Mary L. Simon

Chapter 4. The People of Mound 72: Ritual and Death, Integration and Community Building at Early Cahokia by Kristin M. Hedman and Eve A. Hargrave

Chapter 5. Putting Religion Ahead of Politics: Cahokian Origins as Viewed through Emerald’s Shrines by Susan M. Alt

Chapter 6. A Landscape of Mounds: Community Ethnogenesis at Aztalan by John D. Richards and Thomas J. Zych

Chapter 7. The Power of Place: Ancient Ritual Landscapes in Southwestern Illinois by Mark J. Wagner, Jonathan Remo, Kayeleigh Sharp, and Go Matsumoto

Chapter 8. Ancient Skywatchers of the Eastern Woodlands by William F. Romain



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