From Microstratigraphy to Ritual Behavior: the study of Earthen Monuments in Eastern North America.

Author(s): Sarah Sherwood; Tristram R. Kidder

Year: 2015


Traditionally the study of prehistoric earthen monuments has focused on their staged surfaces and the buildings and artifacts recovered there. Mound construction was simplified to volume, and the type of labor and oversight necessary to move basket loads of dirt. With rigorous attention to stratigraphy, there is a new interest and awareness of these earthen monuments as complex constructions. Selection, preparation, placement and maintenance of earthen materials allowed the establishment of mounds that were able to support substantial architecture, convey important cultural information as well as withstand natural forces that would have demolished simple piles of dirt. Researchers are now using interdisciplinary approaches, centered in the local geology and soils, to explore the links between cultural and natural landscapes to consider complex construction techniques made possible by the selection and manipulation of earthen materials. Using examples from archaeological sites ranging in age from 3,000 to 800 years old, including Poverty Point, Monks Mound, Graveline Mound, and Shiloh, we demonstrate recent advancements in our methodological and conceptual approaches to shed new light on these significant monumental earthworks.

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Cite this Record

From Microstratigraphy to Ritual Behavior: the study of Earthen Monuments in Eastern North America.. Sarah Sherwood, Tristram R. Kidder. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396275)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;