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Cahokia  

David M. Jones

Site in the USA in East St Louis, IL, of a huge Pre-Columbian city. Founded c. ad 700, it was the largest prehistoric city ever built north of Mexico and was probably influenced by political and civic ideas from Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian. At its height, between c. ad 1050 and c. 1250, Cahokia encompassed c. 13 sq. km and had a population of c. 10–15,000. Although located in the north-west part of the middle Mississippi Southern Cult area, it was the political, economic and religious centre for more than 50 towns (see Native North American art, §I, 4, (v)). The exact nature of its power or rule, however, is uncertain. A potential rival in the south-east of the cult area was Moundville, AL, nearly as large. Cahokia began to decline after c. 1250, although some of its satellite towns, at such sites as Angel, Aztatlan, Dickson and Kinkaid, continued to flourish as local centres. A drastic population decline ...

Article

David M. Jones

Archaeological zone in north-west Arizona. Pre-Columbian sites in Canyon de Chelly are attributed to the Anasazi culture (c. 200 bcc. ad 1350) and were built between the 12th and 14th centuries ad when the Anasazi began to abandon their scattered small hamlets on cliff tops for fewer but larger settlements of cliff dwellings. These were constructed in the steep-sided, stream-cut main and subsidiary canyons with numerous overhanging cliffs; on the shelves of such overhangs the Anasazi built blocks of apartment-like structures constructed of adobe bricks or stone blocks (e.g. White House ruins). The removal of the Anasazi from plateau dwellings to cliff dwellings may have been for defence as aggression increased between groups (see also Mesa Verde). The earliest rooms often became storage rooms as later dwellings were built above and in front of them. The blocks were multi-storey and terraced, with access between terraces by wooden ladders. Inter-storey floors–ceilings were made with log rafters. Walls had key-hole and trapezoidal doorways and in some cases square windows. Open spaces in front of the blocks were excavated and filled to create level ceremonial areas, and circular, semi-subterranean ...

Article

R. Gwinn Vivian

Archaeological zone of Pre-Columbian towns and roads in North America, in the San Juan Basin, north-western New Mexico. Chaco Canyon was the centre from c. ad 850–1150 of Chacoan culture, one manifestation of the Anasazi tradition, and considered ancestral to contemporary Pueblo peoples of the Southwest. A community of at least 12 multi-storey, tiered ‘great houses’ and hundreds of contemporaneous single storey ‘small house sites’ were built within a 15 km sector of the canyon. ‘Great houses’ were constructed with core walls with veneer masonry and ranged from 80 to 580 rooms. Small houses were of simpler masonry and averaged about 20 rooms each. Both types were domestic structures, but also contained round ceremonial rooms known as kivas (see Kiva). ‘Great kivas’, up to 18 m in diameter, are restricted to ‘great houses’ or occur as isolated buildings. ‘Great houses’ are associated with elaborate water-control systems that collected and diverted rainfall run-off to gridded agricultural fields. ‘Great houses’ in the canyon itself were linked to ‘outlier’ communities on the peripheries of the San Juan Basin by wide (...

Article

David S. Brose

Prehistoric village site on the west coast of Florida, south of Fort Myers. It was one of dozens of such shell midden sites, first occupied c. ad 700 and abandoned after c. ad 1300 (perhaps destroyed in a hurricane). At the time of the arrival of the first Spanish explorers, the Calusa Indians lived in the area. The builders of Key Marco netted and speared marine fish and sea mammals, molluscs, local estuarine reptiles and small mammals, and collected the starchy root of several native plants to support a densely populated town. The plain ceramics from Key Marco and similar sites were derived from types found at earlier, less complex ‘Big Circle’ earthworks to the north and east in the Everglades (e.g. Fort Center). On sites on the Florida keys, dozens of tool types were made of conch and whelk shell and deep middens of shells were combined into mounds or house platforms, and built into revetments for dikes, canals and boat slips along the coast. The good preservation conditions of the Key Marco middens and coastal mud has yielded large quantities of normally perishable wooden, fibre and bone artefacts (Philadelphia, PA, Acad. Nat. Sci.). Most are commonplace bowls, tools, nets, weapons, paddles or boat and house parts and furniture; but there are also hundreds of personal ornaments (shell and wooden beads, bracelets, pins or ear ornaments—most of the latter with zoomorphic or anthropomorphic carved features) and scores of modelled, carved and painted ceremonial plaques and masks....

Article

Margaret Moore Booker

Zone of archaeological sites in Colorado that was home to the ancestral Pueblo people (Anasazi) between AD 550 and 1300. The Mesa Verde cultural complex is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States containing the greatest number of ancient cliff dwellings ever found. Situated in semi-arid and scenic south-western Colorado, and consisting of 52,121 acres of finger-like mesas (table-shaped hills) cut by steep-walled canyons, Mesa Verde was made a National Park in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1978, in recognition of its exceptional archaeological sites of universal value, Mesa Verde was designated a World Heritage Cultural Site by UNESCO—it was one of seven sites throughout the world selected for cultural recognition.

A monument to American culture, Mesa Verde National Park protects over 4000 known archaeological sites, consisting of 600 cliff dwellings and thousands of prehistoric mesa-top villages and archaeological sites (pithouses, pueblos, masonry towers, and farming structures). Countless artefacts have been unearthed in the park—white pottery with black designs, stone tools, jewellery, and finely woven baskets and clothing—however, the most prominent legacy of the ancestral Puebloans of Mesa Verde is the architecture....

Article

Ozette  

Marie Mauzé

American site at Cape Alava on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. It was the southernmost village of the Nootkan-speaking Makah people and an important whaling centre. Occupied from c. ad 400 and possibly as early as 2000 bc, it was partly destroyed by a mud-slide c. ad 1450, although it remained inhabited until the 1920s. Excavated in 1966–7 and 1970–81, the waterlogged site has yielded over 50,000 remarkably well-preserved domestic and ritual artefacts (Neah Bay, WA, Makah Cult. & Res. Cent.) made of a wide range of materials, including rare finds of wooden and fibre objects. These discoveries have led to a better understanding of Makah culture before Euro–American contact in the late 18th century and have helped to establish its links with other North-west Coast cultures of western Washington state and south-west British Columbia. Objects of artistic merit are principally made of wood and represent zoomorphic and anthropomorphic forms. They are often realistically carved in the round, including seal clubs, tool handles and bowls in the shape of humans (e.g. Neah Bay, WA, Makah Cult. & Res. Cent.), or are incised designs on flat or carved surfaces. Designs are sometimes enhanced by painting, primarily in red and black, or by tooth or shell inlay. Conventionalized motifs sometimes appear alone or in combination with realistic zoomorphic images. Although inconclusive, correlations have been made between objects decorated with realistic motifs and secular use on the one hand and conventionalized designs and ceremonial use on the other. Recurrent subject-matter of Ozette art includes realistic images such as the owl, whale and human faces, and mythical (thus symbolic) creatures such as the Thunderbird. The Thunderbird carved on the side of a ritual box of red cedar (see Daugherty and Friedman, p. 189) is rendered in a conventionalized style characterized by a set of formal elements that presage the classic North-west ‘formline’ system: incised circles or ovals or a complex of ovals and triangles for the eyes; V-shaped relief combined with an ovoid as an element of the eye; V shapes or elongated triangles to represent feathers; and a well-developed head area. Single geometric designs such as zigzags, parallel lines or combinations of both, as seen on Ozette basketwork and blankets, are also occasionally incorporated into representational or conventionalized compositions....

Article

Area in Canada comprising Prince Rupert Harbour and the Skeena River, BC, where about a dozen Tsimshian culture sites have yielded about 20,000 bone, antler and stone artefacts (e.g. Hull, Qué., Can. Mus. Civiliz.). Among these some 100 show characteristics of the development of the Pre-Columbian art of the northern Northwest Coast peoples. By c. 1500 bc the first decorated tools—antler handles for beaver teeth chisels—and a few stone carvings appear in archaeological deposits. By c. ad 1000 all the major stylistic elements of northern Northwest Coast art had been developed. Although minor changes in style undoubtedly occurred between c. ad 1000 and the time of first contact with Europeans in the late 18th century, no archaeological evidence of these changes has been found. Between c. 1000 and c. 500 bc Prince Rupert Harbour art was characterized by animal and human designs, with an emphasis on the skeletal parts and such sense organs as eyes, ears, tongue, nose or snout. The spinal column motif was used on incised stone concretions until the 2nd millennium ...

Article

David M. Jones

Pre-Columbian site in the USA, east of Phoenix, AZ. Occupied between c. 300 bc and c. ad 1400, it was founded by indigenous Ootam peoples, but by c. ad 600 it had become the principal site of the Hohokam, who had invaded the region from northern Mexico as early as c. ad 1. The Hohokam town on the upper terrace of the Gila River and the adjacent agricultural fields along the lower terrace covered over 120 ha. The town comprised an estimated 5000 densely packed structures of adobe and wooden log-beams, built and rebuilt over time, of which the ground-plans have been uncovered (see fig.). Dwellings were grouped around wells, mounds, cemeteries of cremation burials, a pottery-making enclave and at least two ballcourts. The culture of the inhabitants was a combination of indigenous evolution and outside introductions. There is strong evidence of influence from Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian in the building of both earthen platform mounds, in imitation of stone-clad Mesoamerican pyramids, and earthen-sided ballcourts. (Other evidence of the introduction of the ball-game includes latex rubber balls imported from Mesoamerica.) Imported technology included the lost-wax metal-casting technique, to produce copper bells (...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

Archaeological areas in eastern and southern North America reveal advanced mound building cultures from several different cultural phases. Around 1500 bc, several North American indigenous groups attained the sophisticated cultural “Woodlands” phase. For over a millennium, three principle cultural groups, the Adena, Hopewell and Mississippian, built elaborate advanced earthen structures and large temples in the Upper Ohio Valley of Kentucky and West Virginia. Accompanying the earthen monuments was an ambitious religious devotee system.

The Adena culture flourished in the Upper Ohio Valley, around 800 bc. An excavation in 1902 uncovered the preliminary extensive temple mound building structures ( see Adena Mound ). Precursors to monumental temple building, these sites offer early evidence of organized, sophisticated, cultural communities. The Adena lived in large permanently constructed circular dwellings covered with thatch. For almost 1700 years, the Adena performed extensive elaborate death ritual ceremonies. A notable ritual was burial with specialized élite material objects. Advances in copper metallurgy produced technologically specialized objects ideal for interring with the dead. Commercialized production of funerary objects revealed that greater and more elaborate burial practices were developed for elevated individuals. Material goods became increasingly important for eternal rest and great qualities and object types began to appear. Evolving their burial rites into elaborate practices the Adena increased the size and sophistication of their early temple mound building construction techniques....

Article

David M. Jones

Rock shelter in North America, in the Castle Mountains, AZ. It was occupied in Pre-Columbian times from c. 10,000 bc to c. ad 1300. Ventana Cave was excavated by the American archaeologist Emil Haury and the results were published by the University of New Mexico Press. The earliest layers of occupation contained crude, then more sophisticated, stone tools (including projectile points, of which the type—Clovis or Folsom—is disputed), a variety of faunal remains and shells from the Gulf of California, c. 160 km to the west. The inhabitants practised a hunting–gathering economy. Later layers contained artefacts of the Hohokam culture ( fl c. 300 bcad 1300) of the US Southwest, including evidence of their agricultural way of life ( see also Snaketown ), such as maize-grinding stones, pottery and remains of netting, cordage, basketwork, leather and feather objects and cotton textiles. The pottery is typical of early Hohokam styles, with red-on-buff decorations (...