Terraforming and Monumentality in Hunter-Gatherer-Fisher Landscapes

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

Monumental constructions, whether economic, political or symbolic in their origin and use, are integral to how hunter-gatherer-fisher (HGF) peoples have constructed and shaped their worlds over much of the Holocene. For this symposium we bring together studies from various areas of the globe to theorize about these practices, and to account for the complex and varied ways in which large-scale features were constructed and terraforming was practiced in HGF societies. While monumentality has been well-studied in early agricultural and later contexts, the record of HGF monuments is clearly extensive, and attests to a more complex engagement with material production, the construction of place, of identity, and of history than is recognized in the broader discipline. We seek to provide a set of theoretical and methodological tools to address this record.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-14 of 14)

  • Documents (14)

  • From Habitat Exploitation to Monument Construction: Exploring the Nature of Shell Deposits at Crystal River and Roberts Island through Stable Isotope Geochemistry (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Isabelle Lulewicz. Victor Thompson. Thomas Pluckhahn. Oindrilla Das. Fred Andrus.

    Debates centering on the monumental nature of shell mound sites have often failed to provide direct empirical evidence for interpretation of monument construction and or simple midden accumulation. Our research in the Crystal River region illustrates the complexity of such sites. Through our research at Crystal River and Roberts Island Shell Mound, we aim to offer better quantitative assessments of the temporality of shell deposit construction, Native subsistence practices, and mobility...

  • A Hunter-Gatherer-Fisher Urban Landscape in Prince Harbor, British, Columbia? (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kenneth Ames. Kisha Supernant. Andrew Martindale. Susan Marsden. Corey Cookson.

    Urbanism is almost exclusively associated with agriculture, although hunter-gatherers sometimes have seasonal aggregations numbering in the thousands. This paper considers the evidence for an urban-like settlement on the northern Northwest Coast. By AD 1787, the villages of nine tribes of the Northern Tsimshian were concentrated a small area in Prince Rupert Harbour (PRH), British Columbia and had been so for centuries. Prior to ca. 1500 cal BP the Northern Tsimshian lived in villages of varying...

  • Jaketown, Pilgrimage, and Poverty Point Era Sacred Monumental Landscapes in the Lower Mississippi Valley (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tristram Kidder. Edward Henry. Anthony Ortmann.

    Monumental earthworks are a well-attested element of hunter-gather-fisher societies in the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) from ca. 7000-3000 cal B.P. Most famous among these earthworks is the Poverty Point site, ca. 3600-3200 cal B.P. However, earthen monuments in the LMV contemporary with Poverty Point remain enigmatic because their roles in the broader political economy of the region are not well understood. We present information from the Jaketown site in west-central Mississippi to...

  • Midden Accumulation Rates in Prince Rupert Harbour: New Applications for Percussion Coring (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Andrew Martindale. Kenneth Ames. Bryn Letham. Kevan Edinborough. Sarah Wilson.

    The monumentality of the anthropogenic landscape of the Prince Rupert Harbour region on north coastal British Columbia has long been recognized for the number, density, and size of the shell midden terraces containing villages dating to the last 5000 years. The scale of the region’s archaeological record makes regional assessments of the mode and tempo of shell-bearing site construction difficult. We report on a program of regional and site-specific percussion coring combined with 14C dating to...

  • Modified Landscapes, Modified Views: Transformations in Brazilian Shell Mound Archaeology (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Daniela Klokler.

    For many years, normative approaches to shell mound archaeology in Brazil have characterized hunter-gatherer-fisher (HGF) populations as nomadic groups whose mound sites represent accidental accumulations of refuse, despite the fact that almost all contain numerous burials. A shift in perspective, especially regarding the role of aquatic resources, allowed great advances in the understanding of mound-building activities. A dramatic transformation of the southern Brazilian coast by HGF...

  • Monumental Stonework and the Making of Places and History on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Darcy Mathews.

    Archaeologists do not think of the peoples of the Northwest Coast as monumental stone builders, yet current research indicates that the enhancement and demarcation of critical resource sites entailed both the massive movement of stone and the building of stone monuments. The Coast Salish peoples built remarkable numbers of burial cairns and mounds, using stones cleared from important and valuable root crop fields to then inscribe the landscape with their ancestral dead. Their Heiltsuk neighbors...

  • Monumentality in the Hunter-Gatherer-Fisher Landscapes of the Greater San Francisco Bay, California (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kent Lightfoot. Edward Luby. Matthew Russell. Gabriel Sanchez. Thomas Wake.

    This paper examines the construction of impressive mounded landscapes along the greater San Francisco Bay in Late Holocene and Historic times.The authors address some of the theoretical and methodological issues involved in the investigation of extensive accretional shell mound complexes that were built up over multiple centuries. In evaluating questions about how and why these monumental landscapes were constructed, they present recent findings from the study of both large and small sized...

  • The Monumentality of Clam Gardens in the Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric McLay.

    Clam gardens represent monumental coastal landscapes constructed by Northwest Coast hunter-gather-fisher peoples over the past 1000 years. The slow, laborious movement of boulders and cobbles to build up rock-walled intertidal terraces not only created new productive shellfish habitat for greater food security, but transformed social and political relations over peoples’ rights to lands, foreshore and access to shellfish at a regional scale. As large-scale community works, clam gardens must be...

  • Monuments From The Sea: The Prehistoric Shellscapes of the Ten Thousand Islands, Fl (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Margo Schwadron.

    The Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades, Florida contain an impressive maritime landscape, composed of entire islands constructed and terraformed with shell midden. These shell work sites are the tangible and complex vestiges of hunter-fisher-gatherer communities. Shell work formations include extensive complexes of mounds and features. Similarities in temporal and spatial patterning among shell islands suggest that communities were interrelated across a broad region. Shell work islands and their...

  • Points of revelation and communication: Interpreting Native American "monument" construction in the coastal American Southeast (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Sanger.

    Native American conceptions of place have only recently been drawn into archaeological interpretations of landscapes and have yet to make a meaningful impact on the study of built environments, particularly the creation of “monuments.” Drawing on American Indian philosophers and writers, this paper aims to remedy this shortcoming by (re)examining the creation of some of the oldest human constructions in the American Southeast – Late Archaic shell rings formed by hunter-gatherers more than 3,000...

  • Pottery, Shellmounds, and Monuments: Environmental Impacts and Landscape Management of Hunter-Gatherer-Fisher (HGF) in Jomon Japan (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Junzo Uchiyama. Christopher Gillam.

    The Jomon Period in Japan (ca. 16,500-3,000 BP) is one of the world’s earliest ceramic-making cultures. The Jomon sustained a hunter-gatherer-fisher (HGF) economy for an extensive period of time until the introduction of the wet rice paddy system from the Asian continent. Three major factors characterize the Jomon cultural landscape: pottery, shell mounds, and stone/wood monuments. This paper will discuss the roles these elements played in the alteration of the landscape. First, despite the...

  • Terraforming a Middle Ground in Ancient Florida (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Asa Randall. Kenneth Sassaman.

    All societies face contradictions between the perception of how the world was in the past or should be in the future, and the material realities of the present. Changing social and ecological contexts are catalysts for intervention by communities hoping to restore or assert structure during turbulent times. Terraforming is one mode of intervention in which large-scale modifications to land reference ancient times, events, and persons to create new opportunities for the future. At the landscape...

  • Terraforming, Monumentality and Long Term Practice in the Coast Salish World (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Colin Grier.

    The archaeological record of the southern Gulf Islands of coastal British Columbia provides evidence of deliberate and long-term construction of coastal landforms over the last 4500 years. Local landscapes were altered, modified and managed in the service of production, but the implications of such practices for the construction of place, of inequality, and of political networks are profound. I document the magnitude and extent of landscape construction spatially, focusing on quantifying...

  • Trenches, Embankments, and Palisades: Terraforming Landscapes for Defensive Fortifications in Coast Salish Territory (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bill Angelbeck.

    The Coast Salish hunter-gatherer fishers of the Northwest Coast built substantial defenses, involving the labor of multiple households and entire villages. These fortifications, perched upon high bluff promontories or at the points of narrow coastal sandspit ridges, often involved deep trenches and steep embankments that were enclosed by tall palisades of cedar planks. Such constructions would have dominated the viewshed of their seascape. In this presentation, I’ll highlight the degree of...