Demonstrating the wide variation among complex hunter-gatherer communities in coastal settings
“Moves beyond finding complexity in the hunter-gatherer archaeological record, instead exploring the historical processes, contingencies, and environments by which and in which foragers deployed the strategies that constitute complexity. A valuable contribution to the geographically expansive and temporally deep reconsideration under way about what it means to be a hunter-gatherer, and whether the concept retains utility.”—M. Gabriel Hrynick, coauthor of The Archaeology of the Atlantic Northeast
“Challenges older narratives about trajectories of social development in fisher-hunter-gatherer societies. Not only a major contribution to fisher-hunter-gatherer archaeology, but also to the archaeology of ‘complexity,’ and of islands and coasts.”—Thomas P. Leppard, coeditor of Regional Approaches to Society and Complexity
This book explores the forms and trajectories of social complexity among fisher-hunter-gatherers who lived in coastal, estuarine, and riverine settings in precolumbian North America. Through case studies from several different regions and intellectual traditions, the contributors to this volume collectively demonstrate remarkable variation in the circumstances and histories of complex hunter-gatherers in maritime environments.
The volume draws on archaeological research from the North Pacific and Alaska, the Pacific Northwest coast and interior, the California Channel Islands, and the southeastern U.S. and Florida. Contributors trace complex social configurations through monumentality, ceremonialism, territoriality, community organization, and trade and exchange. They show that while factors such as boat travel, patterns of marine and riverine resource availability, and sedentism and village formation are common unifying threads across the continent, these factors manifest in historically contingent ways in different contexts.
Fisher-Hunter-Gatherer Complexity in North America offers specific, substantive examples of change and transformation in these communities, emphasizing the wide range of complexity among them. It considers the use of the term complex hunter-gatherer and what these case studies show about the value and limitations of the concept, adding nuance to an ongoing conversation in the field.
Christina Perry Sampson is instructor of anthropology at Everett Community College, in Everett, Washington.
Contributors: J. Matthew Compton | C. Trevor Duke | Mikael Fauvelle | Caroline Funk | Colin Grier | Ashley Hampton | Bobbi Hornbeck | Christopher S. Jazwa | Tristram R. Kidder | Isabelle H. Lulewicz | Jennifer E. Perry | Christina Perry Sampson | Thomas J. Pluckhahn | Anna Marie Prentiss | Scott D. Sunell | Ariel Taivalkoski | Victor D. Thompson | Alexandra Williams-Larson
A volume in the series Society and Ecology in Island and Coastal Archaeology, edited by Victor D. Thompson and Scott M. Fitzpatrick
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