Ontology, Time Travel, and Transformation in the Lower Illinois Valley

Author(s): Jason King; Jane Buikstra; Robert Pickering

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "From Individual Bodies to Bodies of Social Theory: Exploring Ontologies of the Americas" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In this paper, we explore the implications of time travel (Holtorf) and ontology (Viveiros de Castro, Latour, Pedersen) for bioarchaeological perspectives of Middle Woodland (Hopewellian) peoples of the lower Illinois River valley (LIV), who occupied this region two millennia ago. Following Pedersen’s advice concerning reflexivity, conceptualization and experimentation, we argue that these Hopewellians became primordial beings during both unique and repetitive events that ensured balance across their worlds. We argue that people of all genders assumed ancestral and animal forms in their temporal travels anchored calendric, repetitive and multi-community rituals draped across monumental landscapes. The varied, richly productive landscape offered many potential animal familiars to those who traveled far to acquire shiny obsidian, gleaming copper, or the transparent mica that invited those Hopewellians no longer living to pass into the world below, a parallel universe from which life itself would come again. No less significant were the seasonal gatherings where participants recreated the world, sharing abundance and wisdom as they crossed impermanent boundaries between the cultural and the natural.

Cite this Record

Ontology, Time Travel, and Transformation in the Lower Illinois Valley. Jason King, Jane Buikstra, Robert Pickering. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450594)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 26209