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The Eastern Archaic, Historicized

Kenneth E. Sassaman

The Eastern Archaic, Historicized offers an alternative perspective on the genesis and transformation of cultural diversity over eight millennia of hunter-gatherer dwelling in eastern North America. For many decades, archaeological understanding of Archaic diversity has been dominated by perspectives that emphasize localized relationships between humans and environment. The evidence, shows, however that Archaic people routinely associated with other groups throughout eastern North America and expressed themselves materially in ways that reveal historical links to other places and times. Starting with the colonization of eastern North America by two distinct ancestral lines, the Eastern Archaic was an era of migrations, ethnogenesis, and coalescence—an 8,200-year era of making histories through interactions and expressing them culturally in ritual and performance. « less more »
AltaMira Press
Pages: 296Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-0-7591-0679-6 • Hardback • August 2010 • $70.00 • (£44.95)
978-0-7591-0680-2 • Paperback • July 2015 • $35.00 • (£21.95)
978-0-7591-1990-1 • eBook • August 2010 • $34.99 • (£21.95)
Kenneth E. Sassaman is Hyatt and Cici Brown Professor of Florida Archaeology at the University of Florida.
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Chapter 1. Prehistory Reloaded
Chapter 3 Chapter 2. A Continental Visa
Chapter 4 Chapter 3. Landscapes of Historical Practice
Chapter 5 Chapter 4. Craftworks of Structure
Chapter 6 Chapter 5. Cultures of Daily Practice
Chapter 7 Chapter 6. Structure Transformed
Chapter 8 References
Chapter 9 Index
As the title suggests, this is an attempt to reintegrate humanism into archaeological science, to use the best aspects of older culture history with the scientific techniques of the New Archaeology. The focus is on Archaic complex sites situated east of the Mississippi River from southern Canada to Florida, and dating from ca. 10,000 to 3,000 BCE. Sassaman (Univ. of Florida, Gainesville) argues that there are two ancestral populations that, by their creative interaction, are responsible for the rich cultural complexity of the Late Archaic with its associated elaboration in ceremonial mound construction like Poverty Point sites and the wider mortuary cults of the greater Florida area, with evidence of craft specialization and extensive trade. These people are the "accepted" descendants of Clovis populations and a proposed different people of the Cascade phase and Old Cordilleran tradition, coming into eastern America via the upper Missouri River. The author reminds readers of the rich natural resources of eastern America, with extensive fish and shellfish, nut mast, and flora and fauna available to Amerindians before agriculture. This richness made possible developments of complex sedentary cultures in eastern America that have direct parallels in their cultural elaboration with the historic Northwest Coast Indians. Summing Up: Recommended.

Sassaman has provided a well-written, informative, and thought-provoking example in his most recent book. The Eastern Archaic, Historicized is particularly relevant to scholars of eastern North American hunter-gatherers, but Sassaman's perspective will be interesting to archaeologists working throughout the Americas and beyond.
Journal of Anthropological Research

Kenneth Sassaman of the University of Florida has produced a much needed synthesis and reevaluation of the Archaic Period east of the Mississippi River.
American Archaeology, Summer 2011

A stimulating and provocative synthesis of the Eastern Archaic, filled with ideas that challenge traditional perspectives while simultaneously offering new ways of thinking about and reporting on the regional archaeological record. Refreshingly original, the perspectives advanced will shape much research in the decades to come. Whether you agree with Sassaman's arguments or not, this book will change the way you think about eastern North American prehistory.
David G. Anderson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville