Week 2: Reflection Post, Kasandra Purkey

The Morton Village Project has been an active dig site of many years now. When it started the dig site was studied through culture history, and processual approaches so that archaeologists could understand and then later really study the site. You can not think about the everyday life of an inhabitant until you can identify the culture atmosphere of the time period that lived. Now the dig site can be studied using contextual methods more thoroughly. I think this transition can be seen when reading the article “Children, Migration, and Mortuary Representation in the Late Prehistoric Central Illinois River Valley”. The article mostly focuses on the ways that the children in this community were buried to see if this information can tell us even about the cultural relationship between the Oneota and the Mississppian. Does the ratio of Oneota buried children to Mississppian buried children show the pride that the inhabitants had for their culture. Does burying their children with these artifacts show some religious importance? I think the most interesting part however is the formation and layout of the different houses. Do the houses that show both Oneota and Mississippian styles of building mean there was cultural exchange between the two groups? But then why would there be a majority of violent deaths. If there was cultural exchange going on then could the mortuary items buried with children be a way of rebelling against this exchange? I also find it interesting that there are some many examples of just Mississippian and just Oneota cultures to compare. The goals for the sight in the future reflect my questions as well. The site has its time period and who lived there but the deeper questions still remain. By studying the artifacts within the site through a contextual approach all the goals and questions surrounding the site can be answered. I also think it is interesting that to carry these out the focus has shifted to the children. The article by Jennifer D. Bengtson and Jodie A. O’Gorman described this as an overlook in the past to not focus on children in excavations. It reminds me of a new trend in studying history to begin looking for documents from women that have been over looked in the past because it was deemed to be not of relevance to the events taking place. Why would children be a source to answer important questions regarding the culture of past civilizations. Now we know they have a lot to tell us.

3 thoughts on “Week 2: Reflection Post, Kasandra Purkey

  1. I like that you pointed out the necessity to look back on previously overlooked data/information to gain a new perspective on a site/culture/etc… and then compared it to the similar trend in studying history. It’s clear that certain time periods of excavation and research most likely are littered with biases and if these same digs were to be done today may yield completely different results depending on what the archaeologists of today now deem important. It seems that the culture of the people making the discovery can be just as integral as the culture being discovered in developing the narrative of ancient sites and communities being discovered. In this case, the children of the Morton Village site were overlooked because they were deemed unimportant, but this idea has now shifted and they may end up being one of the most important things to study.

  2. I agree with your statement that cultural history and processual approaches were mostly used during earlier phases of the project while the contextual approach was (is) used to have a deeper understanding of the people who lived on that site: Oneota and Mississippian. I like how you focused your reflection more towards the article “Children, Migration, and Mortuary Representation in the Late Prehistoric Central Illinois River Valley.” Instead of focusing on the introductory video or in the overview article. This article really shows how the contextual approach is being used in this project while the others show more how the cultural and processual approaches were used. The questions that you proposed after reading the article are really interesting. Just like you, I believe that those questions can be answered after careful contextual studies.

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