Date of Award

8-1977

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Anthropology

Major Professor

Fred H. Smith

Committee Members

William M. Bass, Richard L. Jantz, Charles H. Faulkner

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to describe and analyze the social organization and structure of Middle and Late Archaic populations in the western Tennessee Valley. The stratified Middle and Late Archaic Eva site yielded a temporally sequential skeletal series that allowed for the examination of changes in social and demographic structure through time at a single site. Comparison of the Late Archaic Eva series with the Late Archaic Cherry sample facilitated the examination of spatial differences in these two parameters.

Results of the analysis of mortuary activity indicate that there was little elaboration in the mortuary ritual and that all individuals were afforded similar treatment at death. There was a continuation through time and between locations of the essential features of mortuary activity. Any differences in treatment of the dead can be explained in terms of age or sex. There was no evidence for differential treatment that could be indicative of status positions. The hypothesis is supported that an egalitarian social system is in operation during both the Middle and Late Archaic culture periods in the western Tennessee Valley.

Analysis of the population structure of these Archaic hunters and gatherers was accomplished by means of a life table assuming stable population conditions. Results of the analysis suggest that the Eva and Cherry cemetery samples are not representative of true biological populations. It was proposed that continually shifting settlement and subsistence with concomitant fluctuation in the size and internal age composition is a plausible explanation for the observed biases in the skeletal samples.

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