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A Decade of Archaeology at Fort Knox: 2001 - 2011

By R. Criss Helmkamp, James C. Pritchard, Christy W. Pritchard, and E. Nicole Mills

2012 29th Annual Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference

This collaborative paper presents a synopsis of the numerous archaeological studies completed at Fort Knox from 2001 to 2011.  As the primary public land holder in the Salt River Management Area and as the host of one of the most intensively funded archaeology programs in the Commonwealth, the presenters discuss the many ways in which Fort Knox contributes to our understanding of this archaeological region.  A review of the major studies conducted, insights gained, and updates to our understanding of the archaeology of the reservation since the University of Kentucky's seminal 1979-1980 work are provided.


A Monumental Legacy: Documenting South Carolina's Inland Rice Fields download pdf

By Joshua N. Fletcher, Charles F. Philips, Carol J. Poplin, and John Cason

2012 South Carolina Preservation Conference

In 2008, Charleston County Government began work to extend Palmetto Commerce Parkway from Ladson Road to Ashley Phosphate Road. Before road construction began, Charleston County sponsored an archaeological survey of the project corridor to locate important cultural resources associated with the historical development of the county. The methods and results of mapping the inland rice fields of this area is presented here.


A Paleoeconomic Model of the Georgia Coast (4500-300 BP) download pdf

By Thomas G. Whitley

2012 In, "Life Among the Tides: Recent Archaeology of the Georgia Bight", Victor Thompson and David Hurst Thomas (editors), American Museum of Natural History Anthropological Papers, New York, NY.

The following study presents the methods and results of a Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based analysis of prehistoric subsistence economies in the coastal region of the state of Georgia. The study area covers over 4 million acres, and consists of three distinct elements: (1) the Habitat Model (HM) - an interpretation of the intensity of the correlation between a given forage category (prey species, genus, or other grouping) and any map unit (a standard spatial area of 30x30 m or 900 m2) for each month of the year, based on the strength and distribution of key elements (spatial attractors) in their habitat; (2) the Available Caloric Model (ACM) - an interpretation of the total (and mean) number of calories that could be expected in any map unit, given a habitat model value, average size, gender ratios, useable meat weights, and population density estimates for each forage category for each month of the year; and (3) the Returned Caloric Model (RCM) - an interpretation of the total (and mean) calories for each forage category, each month, that could be extracted from any map unit, given the available calories, the technological limitations, the costs of acquiring, processing, and transporting the targets, and the selective restrictions of dietary preference.

Daily foraging radii around known and dated habitation sites are developed from the friction surfaces for both terrestrial and aquatic travel costs, and are used to calculate summary estimates for predicted caloric returns; based on their currently recorded temporal affiliation. By summarizing the habitat, available, and returnable calories for all of the known dated sites by time period, we can generate graphic representations of the predicted dietary sufficiency, diet breadth, carrying capacity, rates of return, caloric retention, and potential surplus for any given site, or averaged for all sites within a given time frame. This comparison allows us to see how people adapted to similar conditions given different habitation locales, seasonalities, technologies, and diets. It also allows us to see which sites could develop large, potentially storable or tradable, caloric surpluses, and which ones faced intense competition, may have maintained social control over neighboring sites, or were well positioned to maximize the benefits of regional transport options.

A more detailed examination of the distribution of each individual forage category around a specific site shows the point at which caloric expenditures exceed predicted returns for each month of the year; illustrating the effective foraging radius for a given species, and points at which that return can be modified by cooperative foraging, or pre-processing the resource. Turned into pseudo-topographic surfaces, the forage return rates can be used to generate predicted pathways from the site to the areas most likely to produce the best returns; i.e., resource collection paths. This allows one to build evidence that particular resource collection sites may be associated with specific habitation sites, and to predict where satellite sites and activity areas will occur (i.e. a local predictive model). On a larger scale, the RCM can be used to help generate a regional predictive model based on dietary preference and predicted caloric availability. This model can be targeted to specific temporal periods, site functions, or task areas.


A Paleoeconomic Approach to Predictive Modeling in the Lower Mississippi River Region (Southern Arkansas, Northern Louisiana, and Western Mississippi, USA). download pdf

By Thomas G. Whitley and Inna Moore

2012 Computer Applications in Archaeology Conference (Southampton, UK)

Between September 2010 and September 2011, Brockington and Associates developed a GIS-based archaeological predictive model for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Vicksburg District. The primary goal of this investigation was to develop a management framework within which land areas sensitive to the presence of archaeological resources could be identified prior to any federal, federally-funded, or federally-permitted undertaking.

The Vicksburg District of the USACE covers the Lower Mississippi River Basin between West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, and Phillips County, Arkansas. The jurisdictional area covers a little less than 43 million acres of land (just over 17.4 million hectares) within 125 counties or parishes (60 in Mississippi, 33 in Arkansas, and 32 in Louisiana). The vast majority of the terrain is generally flat and well watered, with prime agricultural lands situated in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain running through the center of the district, and heavily forested areas in the rolling hills of the South-Central and Southeastern Plains.

The model presented here uses a series of ecological and biological indicator variables to derive habitat suitability and models of economic and caloric returns. These surfaces are in turn used to generate predictive surfaces of where archaeological sites are likely to occur on the basis of specific temporal periods and human behavioral hypotheses. In this sense it is a "deductive" model and is not derived from a dataset of site locations, but it is derived from pre-existing ideas of human settlement in the region. Here we present the basics of the model framework, the approach, and the preliminary results. Along with these findings are the outline for the next step in the modeling process (field testing) and problems encountered with the nature of existing datasets.


Identifying Changes in Native Material Culture in the Charleston Harbor Area: Stylistic Change in Ashley Series Pottery download pdf

By Eric C. Poplin, Jon Bernard Marcoux and Brent Lansdell

2012 Charles Towne Landing Archaeology Conference

Historical accounts by the earliest visitors to South Carolina document a landscape that was occupied and manipulated by Native Americans. Throughout the late sixteenth, seventeenth, and early eighteenth centuries, these descriptions provide us information on the approximate locations and names of the groups of people who lived in coastal South Carolina. Eugene Waddell (1980) identified 19 groups who lived between the Santee and Savannah rivers between 1562 and 1751 (the last mention of the coastal Etiwan Indians in the colonial records). While some of these groups may have been the same with different names applied by visitors from different European countries over these 200 years, Waddell's review of French, Spanish, and English colonial documents indicates that many groups of people lived along the coast at the time of European arrival and settlement. These accounts provide primarily the names that Europeans or their closest allied Indian neighbors gave to these groups. By 1670, these people included the Bohicket, Etiwan, Kiawah, Sampa, Stono, and Wando around Charleston Harbor, with the Sewee along the coast up to the Santee River, the Coosaw to the immediate interior, and the Edisto along the river bearing their name to the south.


Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project download pdf

By James C. Pritchard, C. Mathew Saunders, Christy W. Pritchard, and Catharina Santasilia

2011 In, "The Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project: A Report of the 2010 Field Season", edited by Julie A. Hoggarth and Jaime J. Awe, pp. 15-28. Belize Institute of Archaeology, National Institute of Culture and History, Belmopan.

In the summer of 2010, American Foreign Academic Research (AFAR) operations of the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance (BVAR) project recommenced excavation of structure C-6 at Cahal Pech, which followed up previous investigations undertaken by AFAR during the 2009 summer season (Pritchard et al. 2011). Primary objectives of the 2010 field season were to excavate and thus expose the terminal phase of architecture along the northern facade of the eastern half of the structure so that consolidation undertaken following the 2009 season could be completed, the funding for which was provided by a American Institute of Archaeology site preservation grant totaling US$10,000.00. In addition to completing the work at Structure C-6, AFAR and BVAR conducted excavations of several units at structure C-3, which is located across the ball court at the northern end of Plaza C. These excavations followed previous work (Awe 2006), which indicate that at least portions of Cahal Pech were revisited by the Maya into Terminal Classic period.


Site Probability Model Assessment Tenn-Tom WMA: Section 110 Survey for the Mobile District, USACE download pdf

By Steve RabbySmith, Gitisha Goel, Tom Whitley, Scott Butler, James Page, and Glenn Strickland

2011 Annual Conference of the Society for American Archaeology

As part of the ARRA (2009) funded National Historic Preservation Act compliance projects undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District, a task order was developed to conduct intensive cultural resources survey at a number of individual tracts, totaling over 3200 acres within the Tenn-Tom WMA. This poster presents the results of the survey in conjunction with a comparison of the findings against previously developed probability models.


The Use of Historic Maps in Archaeology at Fort Knox, Kentucky download pdf

By Benjamin A. Roberts and Christy Pritchard

2011 Annual Conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology

We are fortunate in that while conducting archaeological investigations at Fort Knox, we are able to draw from a variety of historic maps (16 that cover the entire installation and various others that pertain to specific locations on the base), dating from the original acquisition of properties in 1919 on through the 1990s.

There are two ways in which we use these historic maps in archaeology at Fort Knox: (1) Comparing a known location on the ground to the historic maps (especially nice for historic artifact discoveries and to see if a building or structure is shown on a map that corresponds with our findings in the field allowing for deed research and occupant histories to be conducted on the site). Or, (2) using a known location on the map, like a farmstead, and using archaeological survey to locate, or ground-truth it in reality on the ground. This is a little trickier sometimes and can lead to proving or disproving the accuracy of the historic map you are using!


Revisiting the Ashley-series: A Quantitative Analysis of a Contact-period Household Ceramic Assemblage download pdf

By Jon Bernard Marcoux, Brent Lansdell, and Eric C. Poplin

2011 South Carolina Antiquities Vol 43:3-20

Punctuated by contact with Europeans, outbreaks of disease, and violent slave raids from hostile Indian groups, the decades bracketing the founding of Charles Town in 1670 mark an incredibly pivotal time for Indian Communities settled along the central South Carolina coast. Indeed, this period saw the disappearance of virtually all local Indian groups from the historical record. While local groups were doubtless crucial players in the early history of the South Carolina colony, we know very little about who these folks were or what daily life was like in their communities. In this paper, we begin to address this gap by presenting an analytical and chronological framework for studying the pottery made by Contact-period Indian communities around Charleston Harbor. Focusing on the assemblage from 38BK1633, a site containing a relatively brief 17th-century household occupation, we offer a detailed description of Ashley series surface treatments and vessel forms. We also suggest some temporal changes within the Ashley series that are derived from multivariate frequency seriation and are corroborated with radiocarbon assays.


Beyond the Marsh: Settlement Choice, Perception, and Spatial Decision-Making on the Georgia Coastal Plain download pdf

By Thomas G. Whitley, Inna Moore, Gitisha Goel, and Damon Jackson

2010 In, "CAA 2009: Making History Interactive", Bernard Frischer, Jane Webb Crawford, and David Koller (editors), Archaeopress, Oxford, pp380-390

When we consider the intrinsic value of land units (or cells) in an archaeological analysis of landscape, settlement choice, or site selection, we tend to develop models which use static, unchanging costs or benefits, or which rely on least common denominators for a wide range of human actions or time frames. This is naturally driven by the tendency to find correlative evaluations as the most comforting means of both hypothesis building and hypothesis testing. Correlative approaches used in such applications as inductive predictive models are inherently reductionist and typically global-inferential. In actual application though, cell-based attractors are dynamic and distinctly contextual. Thus, we need to develop models that provide an egocentric, rather than a global, frame of reference, and are explanatory rather than merely correlative.

The first steps in this direction are provided by agent-based models; however, most agent-based models still utilize fixed frames of reference, or tools that rely on universal knowledge and global decision-making. Likewise, the acceptance of large dataset correlation testing, or training sets, as the primary means for assessing model success (even in agent-based models or neural network applications) precludes approaches that deal in sequential actions, local behaviors, or unique site types. Here we develop a model that uses cell-based analysis in several ways: First, attractor values are derivative of perception; the interface of knowledge and confidence in that knowledge. Second, spatial decision-making is temporally sequential; thus proximity tempers attractor values. And third, the scale of decision-making distinctly relies on both immediate and long-range planning and returns. These concepts will be illustrated with data from the Coastal Plain of Georgia (USA) and placed in the context of adaptations to a seemingly homogenous cultural and ecological landscape.


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