Constructing Archaeological Knowledge: Interpretating Hopewell in the Illinois Valley

Author(s): Douglas Charles; Jane Buikstra

Year: 2017


Through several books and articles, Martin Byers has developed an interpretation of the Hopewell phenomenon in the American Midwest that radically departs from the general consensus. To date he has focused almost exclusively on Ohio Hopewell. Many of the important sites in that region were excavated almost a century ago and the reports and records are less detailed than we would wish. In his latest book, Reclaiming the Hopewell Ceremonial Sphere, Byers seeks to extend his vision beyond Ohio to the Mann Site in Indiana, the Kolomoki site in Georgia, and the Elizabeth and Mound House sites in the lower Illinois River valley. The complex theoretical framework Byers constructs drives his interpretation of Hopewell sites. Our familiarity with the Illinois valley sites as excavators and report authors/editors provides us the opportunity to empirically examine the sequence of construction and use postulated by Byers. We also critically evaluate our own assumptions and biases as they shaped our interpretations at the time. The objective of this paper is not to squabble with Byers, but to examine the role theory and assumption play in the construction of archaeological knowledge.

Cite this Record

Constructing Archaeological Knowledge: Interpretating Hopewell in the Illinois Valley. Douglas Charles, Jane Buikstra. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430500)

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Geographic Keywords
North America - Midwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17355