Comparing Middle Woodland and Mississippian Period Agglomerations in the Eastern Woodlands of North America

Author(s): Stefan Brannan; Jennifer Birch

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Large aggregated settlements have been a persistent feature of the settlement landscape of the Eastern Woodlands of North America for more than 3000 years. By the turn of the first millennium ephemeral agglomerated settlements become common settings for the enactment of practices and traditions that presage the next thousand years of cultural development. The Middle Woodland period (ca. A.D. 1-600) featured sites that hosted macroband aggregations. These included large-scale seasonal events as well as repeated visits to and utilization of the same locations in the landscape. This included the construction of monumental architecture (mounds) and earthworks and group-affirming mortuary practices. Later, in the Mississippian period (ca. A.D. 1000-1550), people came together again into relatively permanent large, aggregated settlements that have traditionally been characterized as chiefdoms. In this paper, we take an approach that draws upon the global literature on and theoretical perspectives that have been applied to ephemeral agglomerated settlements to explore qualitative and quantitative differences between Middle Woodland and Mississippian period aggregations. Our results suggest that these cases are more similar than they are different in terms of: 1) What brought people together, 2) The practices that facilitated and maintained them, and 3) Why they eventually dissolved.

Cite this Record

Comparing Middle Woodland and Mississippian Period Agglomerations in the Eastern Woodlands of North America. Stefan Brannan, Jennifer Birch. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450698)


Geographic Keywords
North America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -168.574; min lat: 7.014 ; max long: -54.844; max lat: 74.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23082