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A Quantitative Dwelling-Scale Approach to the Social Implications of Maize Horticulture in New England

  • William A. Farley (a1), Amy N. Fox (a2) and M. Gabriel Hrynick (a3)

Abstract

We compare domestic architectural features in New England and the Maritime Peninsula to investigate the relationship between the adoption of horticulture and its relationship to social and settlement change during the Woodland Period. Horticulture was not practiced on the Maritime Peninsula until after European contact, despite cultural and environmental similarity to New England. In New England, horticulture has been implicated in profound social and settlement changes. However, aggregated villages, a unit typically investigated for evidence of social change, have proven elusive in the archaeological record. We compiled and analyzed a dataset of dwelling features instead of relying on identifiable villages. This novel quantitative approach uses dwelling feature shape and size as a proxy for social and settlement change, considering these changes at the scale of the house. We find that, during the Woodland Period, dwelling size was overall slightly larger in New England than on the Maritime Peninsula, but ranges heavily overlapped. After the introduction of horticulture, however, dwellings in New England grew in size overall and assumed bimodally distinct larger and smaller forms, which likely necessitated a restructuring of social and economic behavior. This pattern correlates maize horticulture with changes in social and economic lifestyle in Late Woodland New England.

Nous comparons des structures d'habitation domestiques de sites archéologiques de la Nouvelle-Angleterre et de la péninsule maritime afin d'explorer les conséquences de l'adoption généralisée de l'horticulture en termes de changements sociaux et de transformation des modes d’établissement en Nouvelle-Angleterre à la période Sylvicole. L'horticulture ne fut pas pratiquée dans la péninsule maritime avant la période du contact européen, malgré de fortes similarités culturelles et environnementales avec la Nouvelle-Angleterre. En Nouvelle-Angleterre, l'horticulture est présentée comme ayant été la source de changements sociaux profonds et d'une transformation des modes d’établissement. Au niveau archéologique cependant les sites de village font défaut, alors qu'ils constituent habituellement un repère pour l'identification et l’étude des changements sociaux; cette situation a provoqué des débats sur l'impact socio-économique de l'horticulture. Nous analysons ici un ensemble de données concernant des structures d'habitation individuelles en faisant fi de l'idée selon laquelle l’étude d'un village bien défini est nécessaire. Cette approche quantitative novatrice nous permet d'aborder la question des changements sociaux et de l’évolution des modes d’établissement à l’échelle de l'habitation, par l'intermédiaire de la forme et des dimensions des structures. Nous observons que durant la période sylvicole la taille des structures d'habitation était en général légèrement plus grande en Nouvelle-Angleterre que dans la péninsule maritime, malgré une fourchette de dimensions comparable pour les deux régions. Les habitations de la Nouvelle-Angleterre voient toutefois leur taille augmenter après l'introduction de l'horticulture, alors que se développe une division bimodale entre de grandes et de petites structures, changements rendus possibles par une probable réorganisation des comportements économiques et sociaux. Cette tendance met en corrélation la culture du maïs avec une transformation des modes de vie économiques et sociaux en Nouvelle-Angleterre durant le sylvicole supérieur.

Copyright

Corresponding author

(farleyw1@southernct.edu, corresponding author) http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9604-2314

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Keywords

A Quantitative Dwelling-Scale Approach to the Social Implications of Maize Horticulture in New England

  • William A. Farley (a1), Amy N. Fox (a2) and M. Gabriel Hrynick (a3)

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