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|Title:||Living in a cornfield: The variation and ecology of Late Prehistoric agriculture in the western Kentucky Confluence Region|
|Author(s):||Edging, Richard Benton|
|Doctoral Committee Chair(s):||Grove, David C.|
|Department / Program:||Anthropology|
|Degree Granting Institution:||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|Abstract:||Mississippian agriculture has been described as successful with periods of instability. Utilizing the productive Mississippi and Ohio floodplains, Mississippian farmers established a three-tiered settlement hierarchy that included towns, villages, hamlets, and farmsteads. Towns were undoubtedly the focus of these systems, but they also reflect, from an agricultural standpoint, the largest producers and consumers in the system. Archaeobotanical materials from four town sites in the Confluence Region of western Kentucky are analyzed and provide the relationships between plant use and the functioning of hierarchical communities. Town sites contain complex and rich depositional sequences surrounding mound and plaza precincts. Archaeological data indicates that occupations were continuous at each site from A.D. 900-1450. Stratigraphic, ceramic, radiocarbon, and archaeobotanical data form the basis for examining the occupational history at these sites, their site catchments, subsistence patterns, subsistence diversification, and variation between regions.
While many researchers have focused on specific ethnohistorical and modern agricultural data in modeling these systems, this study examines the plants themselves and their importance through time. The archaeobotanical record is paramount in addressing models associated with Mississippian agricultural societies. Results of this research reject the view that Mississippian economies were specialized and only supported by a maize, beans, and squash triad of crops. While maize was obviously the most important crop, the archaeobotanical record indicates that Mississippian farmers continued to rely on native seeds and wild plant foods even in periods of prolonged stability. This research confirms the view that Mississippian agriculture was stable, due in part to subsistence diversity. Mississippian towns contained sequences that suggest a long period of occupation and stability. Periods of instability and eventual decline are attributed to population growth and environmental constraints.
|Rights Information:||Copyright 1995 Edging, Richard Benton|
|Date Available in IDEALS:||2011-05-07|
|Identifier in Online Catalog:||AAI9543577|