Not only does the Morton Village Project use the three contemporary approaches to answer questions about the Oneota and the Mississippians from 1300 AD, but it draws on these three methods to acknowledge the fact that there are still so many questions that are left unanswered.
The first contemporary approach, Culture History, has a focus on the idea that culture is a set of norms that are passed down through the generations within a society. It also uses the questions of “who?” and “what?”. Some norms presented in Morton Village include designs and techniques used in pottery. The older Oneota pottery showed trends of particularly unique designs, but during the time period that archaeologists believe the Oneota and Mississippians co-inhabited the area, it seems that Oneota designs were also influenced by the Mississippians. It is also very notable that archaeologists discovered that Morton Village is located adjacent to the #36 cemetery, where over half of the adults showed signs of violent deaths. The two big questions: who were the Oneota fighting, and what caused such a violent dispute? The answer that obviously comes to mind is that the dispute was between th Oneota and Mississippians, but the reason why is trickier to assume.
Next, the Cultural Procession archaeologists believe that culture is an adaptation, and that cultural change is simply a response to one or more changes in that culture’s environment. This neatly explains why things like pottery and architecture changed during the time that the Oneota and Mississippians lived in the same area: both societies adapted to their proximity to the other. The Cultural Procession approach asks the “how?” and “why?” questions, and questions like these that pertain to Morton Village include: how did these two societies adapt to their proximity to another, and why did violence arise from it?
The Contextual Approach is the most interesting to me because it draws on the other two previous approaches, and thus goes more in depth than either of them by assessing the conditions and perspectives of the societies at the time in order to get an insider’s perspective rather than an outsider’s observation. A major part of the contextual approachis that it views time as a continuous flow rather than large blocks of time studied separately. For example, instead of the time period where the Mississippians abandoned the area and the Oneota arrived, and then the time period where they both were settled in Morton Village, and then the time period in which they separated, this contemporary approach looks more closely at the continuous relations over time that would cause such things to happen.
Listening to and reading about the Morton Village site and learning about all the different approaches to archaeology has allowed me to draw ties between the two, resulting in a slew of questions. Many have already been asked by archaeologists and my classmates, but a few of mine are the following. How can we tell when either of the two societies were in the area? Is it possible to find out why there was violence, and if it was even between the Oneota and Mississippians? What is the significance of changes in trends as far as pottery and architecture? It really impresses me that archaeologists today are able to learn so much about these past cultures from 1300 AD, but I almost feel that I’m left with even more questions in the end.