This week the students will be commenting on whether value systems from various Native American societies constitute conservation. This is a delicate subject that has been interpreted in various ways by postmodern/postcolonial theorists, conservation-biologists, cultural ecologists, and political economists. The explanations range from Native American environmentalism is identity formation in opposition to colonial, oppressive American culture to advocates for returning to small scale approaches to resource use and subsistence with indigenous values attached. The question the students will have to think about is: “do the means to the end matter?” I will return with my thoughts after the students have commented.
This week at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference meetings in Tampa, FL, I will be presenting a poster detailing the early results from work at the 31Yd173 site. This will present the sedimentology results obtained in the spring as well as early patterns in feature and artifact distributions found during this last summer’s excavations. The sedimentology results give us a picture of what the microlandscape (area immediately surrounding the site) looked like during the time this area was used. The early analysis of features and artifacts suggests we may have a small settlement. However, much more work in this area is needed. Here is a link to download the poster:
Work at the site is ongoing throughout the year, and I will be periodically posting results and pictures. Just click the “AGIS Lab Research Projects” link to the right to follow our progress and to see all of the projects being done in the lab.
Last week I began, with the help of anthropology major and rising senior Peter Ellis, excavations at a site in the upper Yadkin River Valley. This work builds on the findings from last year’s fieldschool and is searching for evidence of settlement and subsistence. These are two areas that we do not fully understand for Late Woodland (AD 1000-1600) societies in the upper Yadkin River Valley. I will post periodic updates on our work throughout the summer.
Currently, I am working on examining the archaeological and historical evidence for Native American depopulation from Old World diseases during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. This involves compiling all known direct evidence of depopulation from disease, mapping these data, and examining them through a series of spatial analyses. The first is simple interpolation to allow for a visual inspection of the spatial and temporal trends in continental depopulation trends. The second is spatial analysis tests that examine the spatial and temporal clustering of events. This latter work helps to understand how rapidly diseases were spreading. Comparing these results to more detailed information from regional studies in the Northeast and other regions helps us to understand why diseases spread the way they did and why they impacting Native populations the way they did.
In the link below you will find a PDF of my poster on the early results of this work. I presented it at the Society for American Archaeology’s 78th Annual Meeting in Honolulu, HI in April 2013.
Finally, this work is constantly improved by finding and analyzing new data. If you have any information on initial contact, sustained contact, or depopulation that I have not included, please leave a comment about sources of data or publications that I have overlooked, or just have not found on my own yet.
Pierce Wright, a sophomore and soon-to-be major, is starting a project that will explore two characteristics of pottery shards found during the 2011 and 2012 surface collections at site 31Yd173: firing characteristics and construction techniques. He is going to record the oxidation patterns on shards and determine whether coiling can be seen on any shards.
Samantha Yaussy, a senior anthropology major and biology minor, is currently examining the texture of sediment layers from a Late Woodland site in the upper Yadkin River Valley. The goal of her project is to examine the sedimentation record and determine the relationship between settlement episodes and major sedimentation events. This project is Sam’s honor’s thesis research, which grew out of a Wake Forest Summer Research Fellowship.