Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Welch, Paul

Abstract

This work is all about things. It is about the role that those things play in the human experience, and what they offer to us as archaeologists, whose job is to provide a glimpse into the lives of past peoples. I discuss the things of the past from the theoretical stance of materiality, which assures us that the past is accessible despite the fragmentary nature of its physical remains. This is so because the physical world - objects, landscapes, and space - are imbued with meaning through our interactions with and experiences of them, be they overt and intentional or subconscious and in the background of our active lives. Repeated engagement with the physical world creates habits, memories, and histories and inscribes the social processes that created them upon the tangible world in ways that allow us to interpret the lives of the people with whom we have no direct interaction or accounts. I use this theory to explore the southern Illinois site of Kincaid Mounds during the latter portion of its Mississippian period occupation, with a focus on how community was constructed and maintained within and through time. I do so using evidence from the non-discursive aspects of ceramic and architectural manufacture under the assumption that the methods of producing these items are habituated and thus reveal communities of learning. I consider contextual evidence to determine what other factors may have been at play in the production of these goods. With statistical analyses, I explore the variation in the way things were made between several spatially discrete neighborhoods at Kincaid Mounds, and discuss those results in terms of the making and manipulation or maintenance of community at this pre-Columbian center, followed by a narrative history of the Middle and Late Kincaid phases. I contrast these finds with those of communities within two other Middle Mississippian regions, Greater Cahokia and the Central Illinois River Valley, in order to discuss the variable processes that led diverse and unique communities to participate in a much broader, imagined Mississippian community.

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