Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Remote Sensing as Community Settlement Analysis at Moundville

  • Jera R. Davis (a1), Chester P. Walker (a2) and John H. Blitz (a1)

Abstract

Remote sensing has revolutionized procedures for locating buried features at archaeological sites in eastern North America. However, the potential of instruments such as gradiometers to shape innovative research in ways that move beyond survey and testing is not always realized in practice. At the Mississippian site of Moundville, Alabama, we conducted a landscape-scale geophysical survey to serve as the guiding method of community settlement analysis. First, we mapped the distribution of magnetic anomalies across the site. Next, we defined the variability of anomalies and selected a sample for test excavations to correlate specific anomaly shapes and amplitudes with specific cultural features. Once confirmed as cultural features, we extrapolated sample results to identify unexcavated anomalies as specific building forms and other features with a higher degree of probability than would have been possible without confirmation by test excavation. Results include the identification and mapping of over 450 unexcavated probable buildings, nearly five times the number previously discovered in decades of traditional excavation. Because the buried probable buildings have different forms, sizes, distributions, and chronological spans, the interpreted gradiometer map is transformed through interpretation from a static palimpsest of anomalies to a picture of changing community settlement organization.

La teledetección ha revolucionado los procedimientos usados para la localización de estructuras enterradas en los sitios arqueológicos del este de Norteamérica. Sin embargo, el potencial de algunos instrumentos para modelar la investigación innovadora deformas que van más allá de los sondeos y pruebas no siempre ha sido apreciado. En el sitio de Moundville, en Alabama, hemos llevado a cabo un estudio geofísico a nivel de paisaje que nos sirva como método de guía para el análisis de asentamientos comunales. En primer lugar, hemos mapeado la distribución de las anomalías magnéticas a lo largo del sitio. A continuación, hemos definido la variabilidad de las anomalías y seleccionado una muestra sobre la que realizar excavaciones de prueba para correlar las formas y amplitudes de las anomalías con características culturales específicas. Una vez confirmadas como rasgosculturales, hemos extrapolado unos resultados de muestra para identificar las anomalías no excavadas como formas edificadas específicas y otrascaracterísticas, con un grado de acierto mayor del que hubiera sido posible sin la confirmación por excavaciones de prueba. Los resultados incluyen la identificación y el mapeo de más de 450 probables edificios no excavados, casi cinco veces más de lo descubierto durante décadas de excavación tradicional. Debido a que los edificios probables enterrados tienen distintas formas, tamaños, distribuciones, y representan períodos cronológicos diferentes, el mapa gradiométrico interpretado se transforma, a través de la interpretación, de un palimpsesto estático de anomalías, auna imagen de la organización del asentamiento comunal cambiante.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Aspinall, Arnold, Gaffney, Christopher, and Schmidt, Armin 2008 Magnetometry for Archaeologists. Rowman and Littlefield, London.
Barrier, Casey, and Horsley, Timothy J. 2014 Shifting Communities: Demographic Profiles of Early Village Population Growth and Decline in the Central American Bottom. American Antiquity 79:295313.
Blitz, John H. 2008 Moundville. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
Bigman, Daniel P., King, Adam, and Walker, Chester P. 2011 Recent Geophysical Investigations and New Interpretations of Etowah's Palisade. Southeastern Archaeology 30:3850.
Butler, Brian M., Berle Clay, R., Hargrave, Michael L., Peterson, Staffan D., Schwegman, John E., Schwegman, John A., and Welch, Paul D. 2011 A New Look at Kincaid: Magnetic Survey of a Large Mississippian Town. Southeastern Archaeology 30:2037.
Davis, Jera R. 2014 On Common Ground: Memory, Identity, and the Plaza at Early Moundville. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
Gaffney, Christopher 2008 Detecting Trends in the Prediction of the Buried Past: A Review of Geophysical Techniques in Archaeology. Archaeometry 50:313336.
Haley, Bryan S. 2014 The Big Picture at Hollywood: Geophysical and Archaeological Investigations at a Mississippian Mound Centre. Archaeological Prospection 21:3947.
Horsley, Timothy J., Wright, Alice P., and Barrier, Casey R. 2014 Prospecting for New Questions: Integrating Geophysics to Define Anthropological Research Objectives and Inform Excavation Strategies at Monumental Sites. Archaeological Prospection 21:7586.
Johnson, Jay K. (editor) 2006 Remote Sensing in Archaeology: An Explicitly North American Perspective. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
Johnson, Jay K., Stallings, Richard, Ross-Stallings, Nancy, Berle Clay, R., Stephen Jones, V. 2000 Remote Sensing and Ground Truth at the Hollywood Mounds Site in Tunica County, Mississippi. Center for Archaeological Research, University of Mississippi, Oxford.
King, Adam, Walker, Chester P., Kent Reilly III, F., Sharp, Robert V., and McKinnon, Duncan P. 2011 Remote Sensing from Etowah' Mound A: Architecture and the Re-Creation of Mississippian Tradition. American Antiquity 76:355371.
Knight, Vernon James Jr. 2010 Mound Excavations at Moundville: Architecture, Elites, and Social Order. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
Knight, Vernon James Jr., and Steponaitis, Vincas P. 1998 A New History of Moundville. In Archaeology of the Moundville Chiefdom, edited by Vernon James Knight, Jr., and Vincas P. Steponaitis, pp. 125. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
Kvamme, Kenneth 2003 Geophysical Surveys as Landscape Archaeology. American Antiquity 68:435157.
Lacquement, Cameron H. 2007 Typology, Chronology, and Technological Changes of Mississippian Domestic Architecture in West-Central Alabama. In Architectural Variability in the Southeast, edited by Cameron H. Lacquement, pp. 4972. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
Nelson, Erin Stevens 2014 Intimate Landscapes: The Social Nature of the Spaces Between. Archaeological Prospection 21:4957.
Steponaitis, Vincas P., Stephen Davis, Jr., and Trawick Ward H., R.P. 2009 Field Evaluation of Two Subsurface Augering Methods at Moundville. Southeastern Archaeology 28:259267.
Thompson, Claire E. 2011 Ritual and Power: Examining the Economy of Moundville's Residential Population. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
Thompson, Victor D., Arnold, III, Pluckhahn, Thomas J. , Phillip J., and VanDerwarker, Amber 2011 Situating Remote Sensing in Anthropological Archaeology. Archaeological Prospection 18:193213.
Thompson, Victor D., Marquardt, William H., and Walker, Karen J. 2014 A Remote Sensing Perspective on Shoreline Modification, Canal Construction, and Household Trajectories at Pineland along Florida's Southwestern Gulf Coast. Archaeological Prospection 21:5973.
Thompson, Victor D., and Pluckhahn, Thomas J. 2010 History, Complex Hunter-Gatherers, and the Mounds and Monuments of Crystal River, Florida, USA: A Geophysical Perspective. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 5:3351.
Walker, Chester P., Blitz, John H., and Davis, Jera R. 2013 Landscape Archaeogeophysics at Moundville. Manuscript on file, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
Wilson, Gregory D. 2008 The Archaeology of Everyday Life at Early Moundville. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Remote Sensing as Community Settlement Analysis at Moundville

  • Jera R. Davis (a1), Chester P. Walker (a2) and John H. Blitz (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed