Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Lyle W. Konigsberg

Committee Members

Richard L. Jantz, Walter E. Klippel, Kenneth H. Orvis


The Green River Archaic period skeletal collections represent one of the largest regionally specific aggregate hunter-gatherer sample available for study. These collections have been the focus of numerous studies on paleopathology and paleodemography. Indian Knoll (15OH2) is the largest collection with over 1000 individuals. These burials were recovered from two primary excavations directed by Clarence B. Moore and the Work Progress Administration (WPA) in the first half of the nineteenth century. The WPA excavated numerous sites along the Green River and it’s tributaries resulting in additional skeletal collections from sites such as Barrett (15McL4), Carlston Annis (15BT5), Chiggerville (15OH1), Read (15BT10) and Ward (15McL11). Besides the skeletal collections, the archaeological data from Green River Archaic sites has played a pivotal roll in the interpretation of Archaic period subsistence and social interaction throughout the southeastern United States and Eastern Woodlands.

This study details the results of a biological distance study of these skeletal collections based on cranial non-metric traits. Recent quantitative genetic methods and theory is employed in the analysis of these quasi-continuous traits in an effort to derive meaningful biological relationship. This study is important within the southeastern United States given that most biological distance studies of Archaic period populations focus on numerous sites spread across a large area (i.e. the entire Southeast region) or are site specific. This study examines the biological relationships of relatively contemporaneous Archaic period skeletal collections from the middle Green River drainage.

A series of 24 traits were coded for all adult individuals (>~15 years old) from the Green River skeletal collections as well as from skeletal material recovered from the Eva site (40BN12). The Eva site represents a middle to late Archaic stratified shell midden located on the lower Tennessee River. Mahalanobis values were calculated according to methods described by Blangero and Williams-Blangero (1991; see Williams-Blangero and Blangero, 1989) and Konigsberg et al. (1993). Effects of age, sex and temporal trend on the expression of specific traits were accounted for within the model. Biological distance measures were compared to temporal and geographic matrices in an effort to elucidate the effects of isolation by temporal and spatial distance within the samples. The results indicate a strong geographic influence on the biological distance structure, but the temporal influence is more confounding. The extent of trait variation hints at greater female mobility within the mating network which is indicative of a patrilineal/patrilocal society, but these tests are inconclusive.

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