Households and Social Evolution: Comprehensive Approaches to Social Transformation

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Social evolutionary transformation involves and affects all levels of human society, including households. Household and social evolutionary archaeological approaches, however, are often considered to have different goals and perspectives. Social evolutionary studies use a long-term and comparative approach to study how fluctuations and changes (both abrupt and gradual) in social, political, economic, and ideological, systems can ultimately lead to the transformation and emergence of unprecedented socio-political organization. Household studies examine daily life as the locus of many important social, economic, political and ritual activities to understand some of the same systemic reorganizations and transformations.

This session explores the relationship between social evolution and household archaeology in a global context. Bringing these two bodies of theory together involves taking a comprehensive approach to the study of societies and their internal systems and processes. This includes challenging commonly drawn divisions between the macro and micro scale, public and domestic domains, and ceremonial and quotidian activities. A more inclusive approach to the study of sociopolitical change can facilitate the effective use of temporal and spatial comparisons to better understand local regional developments and the dynamics of social complexity.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-12 of 12)

  • Documents (12)

  • Changes in household organization and the development of Classic Period Mimbres pueblos (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Barbara Roth.

    Changes in household organization were a major catalyst for social change in the Mimbres River Valley of southwestern New Mexico across the transition from pithouses to pueblos. This paper summarizes recent work at a large Pithouse period village, the Harris Site, and the Elk Ridge site, a large Classic period (AD 1000-1150) pueblo that is illuminating the relationship between households, community integration, and social change. Work at the Harris Site has documented the important role that...

  • Evolution of Elite Residence at San Martín Tilcajete, 500-100 B.C. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charles Spencer. Elsa Redmond.

    Between 1995 and 2014, we directed 11 seasons of horizontal excavation in and around the main plazas of two Formative Period sites, El Mogote and El Palenque, near San Martín Tilcajete in the Oaxaca Valley. Our results indicate that major changes occurred in public architecture and elite residence between the Early Monte Albán I phase (500-300 B.C.) occupation at El Mogote and the Late Monte Albán I phase (300-100 B.C.) site of El Palenque. In view of the evidence of fundamental cultural...

  • Founding House, Neighborhood, Village: Hunter-Gatherer Social Complexity at the Slocan Narrows Site, Upper Columbia River Area, Interior Pacific Northwest, North America (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nathan Goodale. Alissa Nauman.

    The Slocan Narrows site is a prehistoric pithouse village aggregation on the Slocan River, a tributary of the Upper Columbia River in the interior Pacific Northwest, North America. 14C dating of housepit deposits have revealed a complex occupational history, likely reflecting fluctuating demographic and habitation cycles beginning ca. 3100 cal BP continuing to approximately contact in the late 18th or early 19th centuries. Slocan Narrows was occupied through three millennia characterized by...

  • Household Change and Social Complexity in Prehistoric Korea (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rachel Lee.

    Household archaeology has made important contributions to the study of large-scale social transformations through the remains of the everyday. This paper examines the role of households, themselves, in the social changes that occurred during the Early and Middle Mumun Pottery Periods (ca. 1500-500 B.C.) in Korea. During this time, incipient social inequality developed alongside another significant change—households that were previously composed of multiple families became single-family units....

  • Household dynamics and the reproduction of early village societies in Northwest Argentina (200BC-AD 350). (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Julian Salazar.

    Long term evolutionary narratives on South Andean pre-Columbian history have stressed lineal processes of complexity intensification, defined by big changes on subsistence strategies, from small and egalitarian hunter gatherer groups to complex multicommunitarian chiefdoms. These changes were thought to influence or even determine the structure of household and consequently daily life of people. Nevertheless recent household archaeology studies have demonstrated that the reproduction of...

  • Households and Hopewellian Interaction in the American Southeast (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas Pluckhahn. Neill Wallis.

    The Middle Woodland period in the American Southeast was marked by a fluorescence of interaction, evidenced most prominently by Hopewellian exchange of exotic, symbolically-charged artifacts of stone, bone, shell, and minerals. The focus on exotic artifacts and their mortuary contexts has created a myopia toward exchange among elites, be they conceived as chiefs or religious specialists. However, recent work suggests that the exchange of exotics may have been secondary to more common exchange...

  • Houses of Power: Community Houses and Specialized Houses as Markers of Social Complexity in the Pre-Contact Society Island Chiefdoms (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Kahn.

    World-wide, communal houses and specialized houses represent hallmarks of social complexity. In pre-contact Society Island chiefdoms, social complexity was materially marked by architectural differences between elite and commoner residences. Yet perhaps more pronounced are architectural differences and varied spatial patterning between residential houses, communal houses, and specialized houses. This paper provides a spatio-temporal analysis of communal and specialized houses on the Maʻohi...

  • Micro-History and Macro Evolution: Material Geographies of Multi-Family Neolithic Households (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ian Kuijt.

    The Near Eastern foraging to farming transition was characterized by the emergence of more powerful nuclear family and multi family households. It remains unclear, however, how this longer-term evolutionary transition was connected to small-scale daily household decision-making. Focusing on the archaeology sites of Tell Halula and Çatalhöyük, I explore archaeological evidence for the development of Neolithic multi-family households, and how they may have been connected to seasonal collective...

  • Olmec Households in the Context of Sociopolitical Transformation (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carl Wendt.

    The Olmec are among Mesoamerica’s earliest civilizations and as such they provide a good opportunity to investigate household change in the context of developing social inequalities. Over the past few decades archaeologists have gathered household data that show the ways they transformed and remain unchanged during periods of social evolutionary change. Artifact assemblages and subsistence patterns are examined and together provide valuable insights ...

  • Residential Variability and Change Through Time at San Martín Tilcajete (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lacey Carpenter.

    Social evolutionary transformation involves and affects all levels of human society, including households. The formation of a state-level society at the Tilcajete sites has been documented through extensive horizontal excavations focused on the civic-ceremonial buildings at a two Formative Period sites in the southern branch of the Oaxaca Valley. This paper presents findings from 2 seasons of work in 2014 and 2016 focused on the residential sectors at El Mogote, occupied during the Early Monte...

  • Towns and Household Groups during a Period of Urban Transition in Native North America: A Case from the Early Mississippian Era in the Cahokia Region (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Casey Barrier.

    The development of large, complex settlements and the organization of associated institutions and social groups are major topics of research for anthropological archaeologists. The realization that pre-Columbian inhabitants of the central Mississippi Valley instigated complex social arrangements at urban scales makes Native North America a site of research that can contribute to the comparative study of urbanism. In this paper, previous and ongoing work near the site of Cahokia is discussed. A...

  • (Trans)Formation, Centralization, and the Making of a Mesa Verde Village (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Donna Glowacki.

    Our understandings of how socio-complexity developed and the role households played in those developments are often hampered because we lack adequately fine-grained chronological data to identify when and how the relationships among households change. A detailed analysis of architecture and 260 tree-ring dates at Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling has produced a new reconstruction of how the village grew and changed over time at a decade-by-decade level. The village was occupied during the 1200s –...