Processing Personhood: Mortuary Activity from the Middle to Late Woodland in the Lower Illinois River Valley
While archaeological engagement with the body as a locus of embodied agency has proliferated in recent years, this study is the first to rigorously apply theories of personhood to the lengthy burial rituals documented within interment facilities of Woodland burial mounds from the North American Midcontinent. This study aims to explore conceptions of the body, dividuality, embodiment, and personhood through the analysis of skeletal material from the Middle Woodland Gibson Mounds Site (n=19) and the Late Woodland Helton Mounds Site (n=2). Osteological data gathered in this study includes an inventory, as well as the estimation of sex, age, and minimum number of individuals. Through the study of skeletal material recovered from these sites, we show the prevalence of hand and foot bones in Middle Woodland processing pits as well as the continued prevalence of extended treatment for adult males. These trends, as well as those concerning long bone frequency and the positioning of final interments, are explored through theoretical frameworks of embodiment, performativity, and dividuality. Our analyses provide insights into Woodland peoples’ perceptions of personhood and contribute to the growing body of literature that embraces the benefits of a thoroughly social approach to the interpretation of archaeological and osteological data.
Cite this Record
Processing Personhood: Mortuary Activity from the Middle to Late Woodland in the Lower Illinois River Valley. Brittany Fletcher, Aliya Hoff, Samuel Mijal, Jason King, Jane E. Buikstra. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442598)
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min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;
Abstract Id(s): 18801