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How You Gonna Keep ‘ e m Looking a t Potsherds After They've Heard Julian Steward: One Man's Journey Into Cultural Ecology Or
I'm in The Forest But I Can't See the !%&(%) Trees. A Play In Three Acts
William M. Gardner
I needed an introduction and failed to think of anything better--which tells you something else about me. Speaking to any criticism which this introduction may generate and my approach in this paper, I will note at the outset that my assigned task for this symposium, the history of cultural ecological studies in the Middle Atlantic over the past ten years, will be addressed from the perspective of my own experience. This is done not because of any latent egocentrism (although I have never been accused of being overly humble), but because this history is tied intimately into my own research, teaching, and publication. I also felt that the personal approach would be interesting through demonstrating that a theoretical position does not appear full-blown but is a product of intellectual evolution. In setting the stage for this historical trek, I am going back to my beginnings in archeology which started several years after the above noted birth, 1959 to be exact, in Gainesville, Florida.
Cultural Ecology on a Need-To-Know Basis
The essence of cultural ecology is to understand the interaction of humans with each other and within their environment. Through time cultural adaptation has enabled humans to become less dependent on the vagaries of temperature fluctuations, precipitation, and resource availability. As anthropologists we have studied the theories and debated the philosophies of Leslie White, Julian Steward, and Thomas Malthus as they have applied to living cultures, but Bill Gardner blended all this into a cultural ecology of prehistoric societies. Although we give lip service to this concept, do we really understand how cultural ecology applies in our society?
“Dirt” to Soil: Advances in the Application of Soil Science to Archaeological Studies
In the past four decades, the transition of considering soils as ‘dirt’ to that of unique profiles revealing landscape formation and age has occurred in archaeology. Dr. W. Gardner, decades ago, realized the importance of soils and geologic information for determining the environmental history of sites. Landscape models, such as the initial one at the Thunderbird site (44WR11), have been useful in placing archaeological finds in context with age-related strata. Soil morphology combined with laboratory characterization has expanded the interpretation of soils at archaeological sites.
Formation of Hearth Basin Features: Implications for the Interpretation of Prehistoric
Archaeological Sites in the Middle Atlantic Region
R. Michael Stewart
The effects of heat on sediment/soil color and organic material are described along with a series of experiences and experiments with surface fires which provide information on the amount of time required to alter sediments of specific textural classes. Hearth basin features are described from a variety of sites. Experiential/experimental data are used to re-examine archaeological feature morphology and matrices from a variety of sites and serve as the basis for: addressing the possibility that surface fires can create subsurface anomalies that could be mistaken for intentionally created basins in which fires were built and maintained; assessing what feature attributes imply about the frequency and intensity of their use, and the duration of the occupations of which they are a part.
Location, Location, Location: The Archaeology of Prime Fishing Site Selection
The exploitation of the migratory fish resource has long been regarded as important to the prehistoric inhabitants of the Delaware Valley. What has received little attention, however, is a consideration of the selection process for suitable locations to conduct fishing-related activities in the past. This paper presents a survey of the various factors that may have influenced the placement of prehistoric fishing sites in the Delaware Valley. The Abbott Farm National Historic Landmark is then evaluated for the suitability of its location for the exploitation of the migratory fish resource.
Rethinking Late Archaic/Woodland Period Culture Change on the Delmarva Peninsula
Bill Gardner continually used new data from various sources to evaluate and revise his models and ideas about the prehistoric cultures of the Middle Atlantic region. This paper’s goal is to undertake a similar process for my ideas about Woodland Period cultures of the Delaware Coastal Plain. Initial models of Woodland Period culture systems and culture change stressed hierarchical societies living in increasingly large and concentrated semi-sedentary communities. Subsequent very large scale excavations at sites with large accumulations of Woodland Period artifacts did not reveal any evidence of communities with more than four to five contemporaneously occupied households. New and meaningful cultural models for the Woodland Period which can accommodate the good evidence for extensive distribution of exotic raw materials and mortuary ceremonialism need to be developed.
Archaic Hunter Gatherer Population Ecology: The Middle Atlantic Transect Approach
Heather A. Wholey
William Gardner’s (1987) ecological transect model in Middle Atlantic prehistory is well known and has been widely applied in regional archaeological research for the past twenty-five years. This work employs the transect model to compare the unique population histories for the Archaic period in the Falls Zone, Piedmont, and Ridge and Valley provinces of Virginia and Panhandle of West Virginia. Guided by Gardner’s holism, this paper explores the complex human ecology of Archaic period foragers, while considering factors such as population density and patterns of mobility and land use to evaluate some longstanding impressions regarding the population history of the Middle Atlantic. The research implements settlement patterning and applies the theoretical principles of population ecology to construct context-specific population models.
Hunter-Gatherers and the American Chestnut Forest: Persistence and Change in the Middle Atlantic Uplands
Carole L. Nash
A great challenge for hunter-gatherer archaeology is the explanation of cultural change in smallscale societies. With strong ties to traditional environmental anthropology and culture history studies, the multi-disciplinary research tradition developed by William Gardner often approached cultural change as an adaptive response to factors external to the group in question. Powerful for the creation of a regional research framework, such an approach can be limited in its ability to recognize adaptation as a complex process occurring at multiple temporal and spatial scales. Through the lens of Resilience Theory, this paper offers a case study from the Late Archaic/Early Woodland Virginia Blue Ridge to demonstrate that the veneer of long-term, persistent mountain lifeways masked transformative changes in upland sociality directly tied to similar changes in lowland settings. The uplands were part of a broader pattern of social negotiation in which seasonal mobility—a system-preserving strategy—provided the context for a system-transforming strategy tied to exchange in a resource-rich setting. Culturally-maintained stands of American chestnut (Castanea dentata) were central to resource territories whose access was socially regulated, mirroring the emergence of restricted mobility in the lowlands.
Landscape Ecologies and Reservation Lives: Towards an Archaeology of Mashantucket Pequot Gardens
“Are cultural adaptations a reflection of the lived realities of peoples’ lives, or are they only models built up from our flawed perceptions of those lives?” Bill Gardner and I long argued this question over many crab-and-beer lunches at Robertson’s in Popes Creek, Maryland more than 40 years ago, before the rise of post-processual archaeology. We never reached a consensus – yet we did agree the question was fundamental to being an archaeologist and doing any archaeology. How flawed are our understandings of Native lives in the reservation period; what might happen if we develop new models for recovering those histories? The theory and methods of landscape ecology provide one key to exploring some of the hidden archaeological histories at the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reservation. Finer-grained studies of sites can illuminate the cultural processes of landscape change, leading to richer understandings of household ecologies in the early 18th century. Yet some Mashantucket Pequot families also participated in a local exchange system beyond their reservation, which gave them some access to ceramics and other goods while laying a foundation for their future integration into a more developed regional market economy. Pequot ‘survivance stories’ like these are represented by a rich materiality in historic archeological sites, and can be illuminated through problem-oriented research.