W2 Reflection Post

Morton Village is a very unique and interesting archaeological site not only because of its vast knowledge about Mississippian and Oneota cultures but because of its creation of a new hybrid culture between the two co-habitants.  The archaeological work being done at this site demonstrates many different approaches to its history.  The archaeologists working there seem very concerned with the chronology of events, especially when concerned with habitation.  Through excavations and digs, they have been able to discover that the Mississippians had occupied the space first at approximately 1000 AD or earlier and the Oneota migrated to the location in approximately the 14th century AD.  This concern for the chronology of habitation is a main goal of Cultural History Archaeology which aims to understand the order of events in history through archaeological processes.  Being able to know the order of events at the Morton village such as which group had occupied the area first, or when violent deaths occurred allows the archaeologists to better understand the cultural relationship between the two peoples.  The archaeologists also embraced a Processual Approach when hypothesizing reasons for the events that had occurred.  When examining violent causes of death in the cemeteries, many of the archaeologists proposed that there may have been a violent relationship between the two habitants or that their hunting and gathering grounds were possibly circumscribed by outside forces.  This type of multiple hypothesis approach is unique to processual archaeology because processual archaeology aims to explain the how and why of the past.  Contextual Archaeology can also be seen in the study of this village.  Instead of examining and identifying the Oneota and Mississippian cultures as holistic with general attributes, the archaeologists decided to understand the hybridization of the cultures by examining a smaller grouping of each lifestyle in the form of children.  They noticed that among many of the burials at the cemetery, many of the children were buried with artifacts that resembled a mix of Oneota and Mississippian styles.  They then began to focus on the lifestyle of the children; how they might have interacted with their family and others in the village.  By doing so, they were able to form a strong hypothesis that the children played a significant role in the creation of a new hybrid ethnology.  These practices of focusing on a smaller grouping of a culture, and placing oneself in the time and place of the village are all characteristic of contextual archaeology which aims to explain the how and why through an insider’s view of the village. 

Through all of these different approaches and their uses in Morton Village, I believe the most fascinating aspect is the role that the children played in the generation of a new ethnic culture.  This is so interesting because we can even see examples of it today.  When immigrants from other countries move to the United States, we often notice that their children share many more qualities with natives of our land than do the parents.  For example, immigrant children can often speak fluent English and their native language while the parents have difficulty with the language.  Here we see a blending of the cultures just as we can see in Morton Village in the burials of the children.

But there are many questions about Morton Village that still remain unanswered.  Because many of the deaths were violent but the children showed signs of interaction, was the relationship between the two societies friendly or hostile?  What caused these two cultures to leave/die?  What was the effect on the natural resources or environment around this area after the migration of the Oneota?  These questions will surely be answered through further investigation.

3 thoughts on “W2 Reflection Post

  1. It is interesting to compare the mixture of Mississippian and Oneota with the immigrations nowadays. There are definitely cultural barriers between Mississippian and Oneota at that time, just like what we have between immigrants and natives, but also the mixture and change in both cultures. History is always surprisingly similar. There might also be some social issues between Mississippian and Oneota about the conflict of culture and might be the reason of their finally separation. The archaeological approaches mentioned in this article are reasonable and make sense, and provide an instruction how different perspectives work together and output the information archaeologists need. But the most important thing I learnt is to predict the past with the similar situation what we already known.

  2. Logan, your detail about each type of archaeology seen in the Morton Village project raise great points. As you said, the culture history approach has been used extensively in the project and surrounding areas, and this has led to a very detailed chronological history of the area, which provides a basis for exploring areas/cultures in which archaeologists want to learn more about. It was interesting, as you said, to study what role the children played in the interaction between the two different groups. It definitely has an impact in the global interactions of different cultures today, through migration, tourism, and even in the work place. Many companies must interact globally, and this understanding, and others similar to it, could aid in the productivity of today’s companies.

  3. Good discussion Logan, chronology is very important in archaeology, and especially at Morton Village where we are arguing that two groups cohabitated at the village for a period of time. If the Mississippian and Oneota contexts were not similar in the chronology, we wouldn’t have much of an argument for cohabitation. However, we do find both Mississippian and Oneota cultural materials in the same contexts, like this summer when we excavated an entire domestic structure and found decorations on pottery that are indicative of the differing cultural groups.

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