Anthropology 2231F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Newark Earthworks, Grave Goods, Social Inequality

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Published on 13 Jul 2012
School
Western University
Department
Anthropology
Course
Anthropology 2231F/G
Lecture 10 Middle Woodland
Newark Earthworks (Ohio)
Largest mound (octagon) covers 50 acres
Geometric layouts, long linear earth-banks
Brad Lepper: believed the earth-work “road” went as far as 90 miles away to
another center; called it the “Hopewell Road”
Very precise dimensions and lengths on structures
o Distances equal across sites
o Area of circles, octagons and squares the same
Layouts tied into astronomical observations (e.g. lunar alignments, solar
movement) common throughout Hopewell
o Large circle between a square and a smaller circle
o Pattern and size repeated at other sites
E.g. Seip site
o Considerable degree of knowledge of geometry, astronomy, and
planning; also ability to manage large work force
Majority of mounds are conical, few flattop mounds
All burial mounds
o Always evidence of structures under the mounds, mortuary facilities
or charnal houses
Can be very complex
Built structures when people died, eventually torn down and
mound built over
o Structures mimic the large circle, square, small circle pattern of the
earthworks
Cremation
o Cremated in a clay-lined pit, 80% of burials were cremations
o Left out for a long period of time to deflesh the bodies
Remaining soft tissue scraped off
o Cremated only the bones
o Clay Basins: sometimes called alters, build up off the floor, sometimes
deliberately filled with elaborate goods and burned
E.g. Hopewell: pearls, beads, bear claws, fabrics, obsidian
bifaces, etc.
o Many include cooked animal remains (especially deer)
Extended Burials
o Often accompanied with large amounts of elaborate grave goods
o Shows beginning of social inequality
o New mounds with one or few individuals = higher status individual(s)
Earthworks used for anything other than ceremonies?
o Vacant Center Model
Many believed it was purely ceremonials, people who lived
there were the caretakers
Gathered for specific ceremonies (burying the deceased, feasts,
etc.)
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Document Summary

Brad lepper: believed the earth-work road went as far as 90 miles away to another center; called it the hopewell road . Very precise dimensions and lengths on structures: distances equal across sites, area of circles, octagons and squares the same. Layouts tied into astronomical observations (e. g. lunar alignments, solar movement) common throughout hopewell: large circle between a square and a smaller circle, pattern and size repeated at other sites. Seip site: considerable degree of knowledge of geometry, astronomy, and planning; also ability to manage large work force. Majority of mounds are conical, few flattop mounds. All burial mounds: always evidence of structures under the mounds, mortuary facilities or charnal houses. Built structures when people died, eventually torn down and mound built over: structures mimic the large circle, square, small circle pattern of the earthworks. Cremation: cremated in a clay-lined pit, 80% of burials were cremations, left out for a long period of time to deflesh the bodies.

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