Warfare and Topography in the Middle Missouri

Author(s): Andrew Clark

Year: 2018


The Missouri River Valley is a unique landscape for horticulturist settlements. The semi-arid Great Plains have wildly fluctuating weather patterns and resulted in a difficult growing environment with frequent changes in productivity. The terraces of the river valley offered relatively flat areas for village planning, the terrace-forming flood waters refreshed the flood plains with nutrient rich sediment for village gardens, and the terrace breaks provided protection from both wind and invaders. While archaeologists have inferred the relationship between topography and warfare among village dwelling farmers living in the Middle Missouri Subdivision of the Great Plains (A.D. 1000-1830), this concept has not been explored systematically. Topographic Position Index (TPI) is one measure that has gained popularity over the last decade as a tool to investigate an array of geographic variables. Using a pre-dam DEM, I calculated a TPI for the Big Bend geographical division to identify landform classifications within the model compared against site locations. The results show a fluctuation in village settlements among differing landforms over time and between taxonomic cultural units along with a positive correlation between topographic prominence and increased fortification construction.

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Warfare and Topography in the Middle Missouri. Andrew Clark. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442625)

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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21869