Multiethnic Ethnogenesis of Village Life by Robert Cook, OSU

Event Date: 

Monday, March 14, 2016 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Event Location: 

  • HSSB 2001A

Multiethnic Ethnogenesis of Village Life during the Fort Ancient Period (AD 1050-1650) in the Middle Ohio Valley

Dr. Robert Cook, Ohio State University

This presentation focuses on the evolutionary and social processes of village formation by way of a Fort Ancient case study in the Middle Ohio Valley.  A variety of data sets (e.g., AMS and OSL dates, geophysical surveys, petrographic, chemical, and biodistance analyses) are employed to explore a long-standing narrative that has Fort Ancient societies developing greater complexity over time with corresponding increases in site size and maize dependency.  Moreover, contacts with Mississippians have long been thought to occur mainly after the dissolution of neighboring Mississippian societies (ca. A.D. 1400).  A recent, long-term study has resulted in a very different scenario, one where large villages originate at about A.D. 1050, the time of Cahokia's "big bang."  The ethnogenesis of Fort Ancient involved the incorporation of earlier monuments with key Mississippian status symbols and people themselves.  The product was a hybrid society that creatively transformed select elements of Mississippian society in novel ways.  Over time, the founding villages segmented and aspiring leaders split off to integrate other local populations into villages.  At about A.D. 1400, amidst widespread environmental and social change, populations fused into a coalescent society, with maize dependency actually decreasing through time.  Villagers were then pushed and pulled from the region, with various elements arguable present in several Central Algonquian and Siouan tribes.