W2 Reflection Post

In looking at the article and video about the Morton project, I found several examples on multiple theoretical perspectives. The first evidence of use of a theoretical perspective, were in the questions the archeologists asked when first uncovering bones in the Oneota cemetery. They found much evidence of violent death within the Oneota burials and therefore had to ask “Who were they fighting?”. These types of very basic “who” or “what” questions are examples of looking at archeology from the cultural history perspective which mainly aims to just order past events.

Another example of the use of the cultural history perspective is when the archeologists were comparing the Mississippian and Oneota houses. They noticed that both types of houses share similar orientations, making it seem as though both groups were present at similar times. The archeologists also argue, however, that the Oneota people might have just settled in already built Mississippian houses. This is an example of the cultural history perspective because it places emphasis on the “when” of the archeology. The archeologists want to find evidence that helps them place the groups in a sequence in terms of when they lived and if they lived with each other.

The second theoretical perspective the Morton project uses is the processual perspective. This is used when archeologists ask how or why questions. When talking about doing the excavations, the archeologists mention they are interested in better understanding the village through finding out how people lived, how they used resources and why the Oneota and Mississippian people were interacting in the region. The processual perspective looks to explain the events of the past by identifying the processes of cultural change, which is what the archeologists in the Morton project are doing.

Finally, the archaeologists use a post-processual/contextual approach when trying to understand the causes and effects of Oneota migration into the Morton Village. In trying to understand the group’s migration, they are acknowledging that human decision making and individuals actively contribute to changes in culture, such as when migrating. This contextual approach tries to understand the meaning of the past, such as what the effects of the migration were.

Personally, I find the contextual approach the most engaging. I think the “why” of a cultural shift is the most interesting aspect about it. I also think that anthropology tends to look at large scale factors that cause cultural shifts, but individual actions are just as important, which is what the perspective highlights.

If I was working on the site, I would want to know if there were ways to find out more about the interactions between the two groups. I also think it would be cool to learn if either group influenced the other to shift culturally in some way.

One thought on “W2 Reflection Post

  1. Good discussion about the different approaches used at Morton Village. Morton Village is an ongoing research project, many graduate students, Dr. O’Gorman, and Dr. Mike Conner are all looking at ways to learn more about the interactions between the two groups!

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