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Lecture 12

Anthropology 2231F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Hectare

Course Code
ANTH 2231F/G
Christopher Ellis

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Lecture 12 Part 1 Late Woodland: 500-800 AD
Most complex in North America (north of Mexico)
o Other sites start replacing them around 1000 AD Mississippian
o Largely disappeared before the Europeans arrived, remained in Great
Lakes/Northern USA region past when the Europeans arrived
Major Changes/Trends of Late Woodland
1. Greater reliance on maize
o Much of the maize grown around 800-900 AD was a more productive
variety Eastern 8 Row
Larger kernels and cobs
o Very important to subsistence
2. Greater populations
o Sites become very common, especially in river areas
3. Technological innovations
o Related to the processing, cultivation and storage of maize
o E.g. large flint hoes, improvements in ceramics (large bottles,
stoppered/hooded vessels), larger and stronger storage vessels
Based on use of shell and limestone tempering: creates calcium
carbonate produces a lighter clay that can be made into
larger, stronger vessels
4. Site size increasing
o 500 AD: almost all sites were small villages, I hectare, about 4 houses,
less than 50 people
o 900 AD: greater number of larger villages, 10+ hectares, as many as
30-40 houses, 500+ people
5. Increasing evidence for organization of communities
o 500 AD: no good evidence of extensive planning (house layouts,
organization, spacing, etc.)
o 800 AD: clusters of houses (reflecting clans, lineages, etc.), arranged
around central plazas, public areas often have larger communal
structure (presume ceremonies), central/ceremonial post
6. Increase in storage capabilities
o Store seeds for next season and surpluses
o Communal storage don’t keep it for themselves
o 500-800 AD: most were small, maximum 800 liters, was kept within
their own social units
o 800-900 AD: storage pits for at least 2 tons of maize (twice as much
as a normal family would need)
7. Relatively egalitarian social organization
o Needed organization, but not necessarily socially
o No marked status differentiation
Set the stage for future Mississippian societies
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