Robert W. Park
In the Arctic, people experience some of the most profound seasonal changes anywhere on earth: the temperature and amount of daylight differ tremendously between summer and winter, the nature and extent of the usable landscape varies enormously with the annual formation and dissolution of the sea ice, and the composition and abundance of the fauna changes dramatically due to most species' annual migrations. Moreover, because the sea ice environment melts every summer, all direct traces of human use of that landscape are lost annually. Therefore, to a greater extent than in most archaeological situations, our understanding of the history of human use of the sea ice part of the coastal environment must be inferential.
Kurt Anschuetz, Eileen L. Camilli, and Christopher D. Banet
The discussion in this chapter is based on the premise that agricultural landscapes are the foundations of the economies, social organizations, and cultural identities of farming communities. It reviews selected archaeological districts between Sonora and the northern Rio Grande in which technologically diverse agricultural features, including trincheras, terraces, rock-bordered grids, gravel mulches, and canals, are well documented. This examination shows that large-scale field complexes, including those dependent on canal irrigation, are widespread throughout the pre-colonial North American Southwest, with some dating to the Late Archaic. Consideration of the Tewa Basin of north-central New Mexico as a case study introduces the idea that shrines are other essential agricultural landscape features, which possess the potential to contribute toward fuller understandings of farming settlement dynamics.
Debra Corbett and Michael Yarborough
Archaeological research in the last 35 years has greatly increased our understanding of the complexity and dynamism of prehistoric Aleutian cultures. The traditional view of a uniform and unchanging culture spanning 1,000 miles and 4,000 years has collapsed under this new research. This chapter brings together for the first time recent scholarship on archipelago-wide cultural change through time and across space. The role of cultural influences from elsewhere in Alaska is explored, demolishing the paradigm of cultural isolation. This was instead a population of highly specialized maritime hunter-gatherers who undertook voyages of trade and warfare, sometimes covering distances of hundreds of kilometers, as well as inland movements to discover abundant resources.
Justin Tackney, Joan Coltrain, Jennifer Raff, and Dennis O'Rourke
Genetic diversity in modern Arctic communities provides a baseline from which to assess population history. This is augmented by documenting patterns of genetic variation in prehistoric populations using ancient DNA methods, and inferring dietary resource information and adaptive strategies derived from stable isotope analyses. This chapter uses this multidisciplinary approach to examine population history and colonization events in the Aleutians of South Alaska, and the origin and population history of Paleoeskimo and Neoeskimo populations of the North American Arctic. The power to identify past demographic events relies on knowledge of both genetic and isotopic signatures of demographic events, and on acquisition of securely dated and well provenienced samples for analysis.
Elizabeth J. Reitz
Data from three early European-sponsored colonies in North America indicate that changes in animal use occurred quickly. Over half of the meat from vertebrate sources in a Spanish assemblage associated with the first permanent European settlement on the Atlantic coast (Florida) and a French assemblage from the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico near Mobile (Alabama) are from local, wild animals. The English assemblage associated with Charles Towne (South Carolina) reflects the rapid development of a short-lived cattle industry. Early colonists by and large practised a strategy that combined similar arrays of local wild meat sources with pork or beef regardless of the national affiliation of the colony, the ethnicity of the colonists, or the century in which colonization occurred.
Karen Gust Schollmeyer and Katherine A. Spielmann
Studies of animals in Southwest archaeology have been particularly successful in addressing the social-environmental context of human use of fauna. Two aspects of this topic form the focus of this chapter: understanding anthropogenic effects on landscapes, and human ritual engagement with animals. Studies of fauna and anthropogenic landscape change have centered on topics including garden hunting, anthropogenic vegetation changes, and human impacts on artiodactyls. Investigations of human ritual engagement with animals have primarily included analyses of room and site function (particularly examining ceremonial centers), studies of the emergence of new ritual regimes, and analyses focused on birds in religion. Emerging directions for Southwest zooarchaeology include synthetic analyses, archaeological chemistry, and variation in religious belief over time and space.
Kevin Conti and William H. Walker
This chapter explores the performance of light and shadows in two ancestral Pueblo rock art sites in southeast Utah. These sites possess anthropomorphic rock faces and modified features to create both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic images that we argue derive from mythological traditions of Pueblo peoples. Specifically, light/shadow patterns at these sites produce and interact with Bear and War Twin imagery on prominent dates of the solar calendar. Traditionally such imagery would be approached through rock art studies in terms of motifs and symbolic interpretations. The celestial component would be addressed by archaeoastronomers. Using object agency theory, we seek to contextualize these data as places where people communicated with their Bear and War Twin deities.
Christopher I. Roos
It has been suggested that anthropogenic burning may have altered Southwest landscapes at a large scale. Southwestern biomes vary in their propensity for and their susceptibility to anthropogenic burning practices. Anthropogenic burning to enhance the productivity of wild plant foraging or agriculture was probably limited in scale; on the other hand, fire use in hunting, religious practice, and warfare may have impacted larger scales, though at lower intensity. Middle-elevation forests, woodlands, and grasslands were the biotic zones most likely to be impacted by anthropogenic burning, but sophisticated mimicry of natural fire regimes means that the evidence of such impact is ambiguous.
Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
Jago Cooper and Lindsay Duncan
This chapter considers the role of archaeology in creating solutions for coping with the impacts of global environmental change, illustrated by cases from Latin America. Past examples of the practical application of pre-Columbian innovations and techniques are considered, and the key themes of social practice and community engagement discussed. These principles are then applied to the islands of the Caribbean where archaeology can play an important role in accessing and illuminating pre-Columbian lifeways in the region. The comparative resilience of past and present lifeways to the hazards created by extreme weather events, precipitation variability, and sea level changes are discussed, and the role of archaeology as a means of engaging the public, stimulating discussion, and informing debate is considered.
This article discusses the full range of Arawak and closely related groups. It addresses four primary aspects of the diaspora: histories of studies on the Arawak; language groupings and history; archaeological evidence; and theoretical implications. The idea of an Arawak diaspora reflects a place in the Western imagination concerning the tropics, Amazonia, indigenous people, and their histories in the “Global South.” In other words, it is a model of long-term, large-scale sociohistorical phenomena and how they change through time. The Arawak diaspora is similar in age and scope to other early tropical diaspora, namely the Austronesian diaspora in the Pacific and the Bantu in Africa, which also reflect the movements and interactions of early root- and tree-crop agriculture, hierarchical systems of social value, and regional political integration.
Jeffrey T. Rasic
A wide variety of materials, including lithics, manufactured goods, and food circulated within and between communities in the North American Arctic, including fish and sea-mammal oil, dried meat and fish, skins and furs, walrus ivory, and wood, as well as nephrite jade, soapstone, chert, obsidian, slate, graphite, pyrite, galena, jet, lignite coal, amber, quartz crystal, and hematite. This review considers only the inorganic materials. To establish provenance, Arctic researchers employ standard methods including trace-element characterization, geochemistry, petrography, stable isotope values, visual appearance, and geochronology. The geographic coverage extends across the North American Arctic from western Alaska to Labrador, considering each material’s precontact uses, geological source locations, and distribution patterns in time and space, concluding with the prospects and status of provenance studies.
Richard H. Wilshusen and Donna Glowacki
The Mesa Verde region—extending from southeastern Utah to southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico—is the heartland of the earliest pueblos and an ancestral home for at least three of the four Pueblo language groups. Over the last two millennia, there were three periods in which Ancestral Pueblo population peaked and declined, with the last abandonment of the late thirteenth century the most well known. The combination of excellent material preservation, detailed tree-ring and ceramic chronologies, and the ability to integrate extensive archaeological, linguistic, sociocultural, and biological data provides a unique opportunity to research the Neolithic demographic transition, the ethnogenesis of historically known groups, the formation and abandonment of villages, and the role of historical contingency in making sense of the past.
Gerald A. Oetelaar
On the Northern Plains of North America, archaeological models of settlement systems are generally based on the ecology and behavior of bison. The annual subsistence round is often described in terms of the seasonal migrations of bison, from wintering grounds in the sheltered valleys of the foothills to summer pastures on the open grasslands. Even though the bison herds migrate across extensive tracts, the territories of the human groups are limited by the distribution of critical resources and by the prevailing mode of transportation. Bison-herding behavior also accounts for seasonal patterns of human aggregation and dispersal, whereas topography, vegetation, and distance to fuel and water explain where people camp during their annual forays across the Northern Plains. Although researchers now use GIS to develop sophisticated predictive models of site location, they still rely on the same suite of ecological variables to model human behavior.
Jorge Ulloa Hung and Roberto Valcárcel Rojas
This article discusses the basic aspects of the archaeological practice in Cuba, looking at how vital characteristics of the indigenous communities that were established in Cuban territory are valued, and examines details regarding the interactions associated with them. It highlights the role of the Archaic societies as one of the factors for the indigenous presence on the island. Using the analysis of specific themes and key moments, the article shows that the Archaic societies were more complex than traditionally considered and that they had an important role in situations of biological and cultural arrangements that were decisive in creating the diversity identified in the Cuban archipelago and the beginnings of the multicultural mosaic of the Greater Antilles.
Stephen W. Silliman
This article aims to outline themes of research in Native northern California, specifically under Spanish/Mexican and Russian control, in order to highlight key issues in North American archaeology that manifest uniquely and informatively on the West Coast. It restricts this discussion to northern California since this region has produced to date some of the most detailed and theoretically rich insights into Native American histories and cultures in colonial California. A fundamental issue in the archaeology of Native Americans during colonial periods is the question of change and continuity. The answers frequently rely on dichotomous categories of colonizer and colonized, or European and Native American, and rarely delve into the intersection of material culture, space, social memory, and labor to answer these difficult questions.
The French colony of Acadia, located in what is now the Maritime Provinces of Canada and part of the State of Maine, has long attracted the attention of writers and scholars. Immigrating to the region in the early seventeenth century, the Acadian colonists established a viable agricultural economy without alienating the region’s indigenous peoples. Despite these achievements, imperial politics brought war to the region in the mid-eighteenth century, and saw most of the French inhabitants removed by force. Historical archaeology is helping to recover details of this early Canadian immigrant experience, but the task is complicated by a scholarly tradition dominated by romanticism and myth. This chapter surveys the development of historical archaeology in reference to the Acadians in Nova Scotia, noting how archaeology has helped reframe understandings of this colonial experience, and suggesting ways to carry the project further.
Archaeology and Native Northerners: The Rise of Community-Based Practice across the North American Arctic
Archaeology is undergoing a sustained shift in the North American Arctic, as factors both internal and external to the discipline work to expand and transform the structure, demographics, and objectives of professional practice. A major part of this shift hinges on the relationships between indigenous peoples and the archaeological establishment. Over the past 40 years, Inuit, Dene, Alaskan Native, and other local communities have increasingly demanded a stake in their archaeological heritage; archaeological practitioners have responded in varying ways, from resistance and naïveté to both tentative and concerted moves toward more inclusive practices. This chapter describes the historical and evolving relationship between Native Northern communities and archaeologists, characterizes elements of community-based practice, and examines some of the forms, approaches, and applications of this emergent paradigm.
Christopher F. Altes
Geographic information systems (GISs) are a broad category of spatial technologies for gathering, analyzing, and creating data. Such systems provide a means of managing, archiving, and analyzing a wide range of data. This article reviews the three functions of GISs in archaeology, with an eye toward Caribbean landscapes. These functions can generally be described in terms of recording, gathering, and archiving information; processing basic statistical information; and generating new data. In practice, archaeological applications of GISs tend to fall into two categories. The first relates solely to collecting and archiving geospatial data. This application of GISs creates datasets for management and future research. The second applies tools found in GIS platforms for analysis and the creation of new data.
The prehistory of the eastern Aleut region is one of the most convoluted and dynamic cultural trajectories in the Arctic region. Situated on the one of the world’s most productive fisheries, it is on the hinge point between the often-violent North Pacific and Bering Sea climate regimes. The richest marinescapes in the Pacific region gave rise to the largest human populations, the largest villages, and the most socially complex organizations in the Eskimo-Aleut world. But these villages rose and fell, and even the largest were subject to periodic cultural collapse. Climate, marine productivity, and boating technology are the key factors in understanding the archaeology of this part of Alaska.