Dissertation Research: An Integrative Study of Ceramic Exchange During the Illinois Valley Middle Woodland Period
Ezra B. Zubrow Principal Investigator
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Zubrow Under the direction of Dr. Ezra Zubrow, Ms. Shannon Fie will collect data for her doctoral dissertation. The goal of her research is to understand how intra-regional exchange served to integrate three prehistoric "Woodland" populations in the Illinois Valley and to accomplish this goal she will analyze ceramic remains from a number of archaeological sites. Because ceramics contain both technological and stylistic markers which help scientists to determine point of origin, analysis of such data allow one to reconstruct trade routes and to determine both direction and intensity of interaction. On this basis a social network can be reconstructed. To accomplish this goal, MS Fie will focus her attention on non-elite ceramics which were used for everyday purposes and are more common that their finely worked counterparts. She will establish a regional database of clay sources and determine the chemical and mineralogical composition for each deposit. She will then subject archaeological materials to petrographic and neutron activation analysis to group sherds by both clay source and source of manufacture. The sites which MS Fie will examine all form part of the Hopewell phenomenon. Approximately 2,000 years ago the first large scale complex societies arose in the American midwest. Hopewell peoples constructed large and impressive earthworks, and traded widely in exotic goods which originated in many parts of North America. While many ceremonial centers have been studied, archaeologists still have little understanding of how Hopewell groups were organized and interacted on a local level. The ceramic study which MS Fie will conduct, promises to shed new light on this question. This research is important for several reasons. It will increase our understanding of how complex societies arise and will provide new insight into an important aspect of American prehistory. It also will assist in the training of a promising young scientist.