Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Culture Change and Continuity in the Ancient Southeast. Gilmore and Jason M. The approach is explicitly multiscalar, a tool for examining practice and structure at multiple temporal and geographical scales, based on the examination of both transformative events, also called happenings or occurrences, as well as more mundane or routinized activities or practices.
How events create structure can be likened to ripples radiating out from a rock thrown in a pond: As the editors of this volume demonstrate in their introduction, however, using the example of global climate change, sometimes major changes can be occurring around us and yet be impercep- tible, at least as reflected in our attitudes and behavior, until a memorable and catastrophic event brings conditions sharply into focus. Theory provides the framework and some of the basic tools by which this interpretation occurs.
It is thus perhaps not surprising that schol- ars, members of the general public, and policymakers are looking to the past for an understanding of how they can shape the future. Likewise, Archaic lifeways are examined by Arco et al. Sassaman and Jason M. Archaeology has much to contribute on the subject, as many recent papers and volumes have demonstrated, and I have no doubt that research on relationships between climate and culture change in the past and how it can help us prepare for the future will continue to grow tremendously in years to come e.
Unusual but fre- quent climate change, such as fluctuations in spring rainfall that influence crop productivity, can be dealt with far more easily, because they are known, than can unusual events that occur so rarely societal responses are not known or remembered. The incidence of unlikely weather events per generation was much higher in the Late Woodland and Late Mississippian periods than during the Middle Woodland and Early and Middle Mississippian in their study sample.
While societies may have been able to respond to an increasing incidence of extreme weather events, their response i.
Tying the need to remember such events and come up with adequate responses to an increased respect for elders and ancestor veneration is one possibility; another, of course, is encoding appropriate responses to rare, widely spaced events in myth and ritual Minc ; Minc and Smith Changes in resource structure, climate, and biota do not occur uniformly but are shaped by many factors, such as physiography, ocean currents, atmospheric circulation, underlying geology, and so on. Of course, the Younger Dryas was itself a lengthy period, with highly varied conditions, making generalizations risky even within relatively small regions.
Linking eventful human history to broader global patterns of change, as well as more focused local patterns of change, should be our goal. Moore chapter 3 places the examination of microscale events at the Chiggerville shell midden in the context of past work on these classic Shell Mound Archaic sites, situating this work within a long history of research.
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Major pit features, for example, have been found in the centers of shell rings on St. Catherines Island, and while their function remains unknown, it is clear that substantial effort went into their construction Sanger and Thomas Across the Midsouth, in fact, shell middens have been constructed for thousands of years, at least as far back as ca.
As Moore argues, events can become inscribed upon a landscape, and in so doing, shape and transform structure. As an example, he notes that initial events in a location, such as the placement of burials, the holding of feasts, or the construction of buildings, when remembered, can shape much of what follows in that location see also Moore and Thompson The title of Meggan E.
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Gilmore chapter 6 notes, this was about more than the recovery of artifacts. When we compare the current narratives with earlier interpretations of Late Archaic settlement locally—of foraging groups whose sites, annual ranges, and items of material culture may have differed to varying degrees but were otherwise implicitly or explicitly assumed to be essentially identical in terms of settlement patterning and subsistence pursuits e.
The underlying explanation for this, he argues, referencing work by Mary Hartman Indeed, conditions at all levels of society, as well as changes in them, he argues, can be explored through the study of households. Importantly, Pluckhahn notes that observed changes in house size and storage features at Kolomoki appear to be unrelated to environmental change, at least locally.
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The point, however, is that human agency operating at the house- hold level, and not solely or predominantly exogenous factors, were impor- tant in bringing about the changes observed. These characteristics are tied, in part, to the increasing importance of individualized hunting brought about by the appearance and eventual adoption of the bow and arrow, as well as the apparent ability of smaller family groups to produce increased, or at least sufficient, food for themselves through maize agriculture.
Gilmore argues that pit construction associated with feasting in Locus B at Silver Glen Run reflects the overall history of the center written on and under the landscape. Many of the pits at Locus B had layered final fills that lacked many of the artifact categories found in general midden deposits, suggesting careful selection.
The idea that pit contents could be carefully selected, creating buried monu- ments, deserves further consideration. Ritual initiation as well as termination episodes marked by the deposition of specific layers of shell, sand, colored sediments, or other materials has a long history in the Southeast, dating back to the earliest monuments in places like the St. Johns and continuing up to the Mississippian era, as documented at many sites, particularly recently in some detail at Poverty Point and Shiloh Anderson a; Anderson et al.
After reading the chapters by Blessing, Gilmore, and Moore, it is impossible to think about Archaic pit features as anything other than remarkable examples of purposeful behavior, whose margins and fills should be carefully examined; nor should these fea- tures be thought about one at a time wherever multiple examples are present. Margaret Spivey, Tristram R. Ortmann, and Lee J. Central Asia has undergone dramatic material and cultural change in this century.
The emancipation of women, the introduction of universal education and the immigration of large numbers of foreigners into the region are some of the factors that have contributed to the new face of Central Asia. However, the old ways have not been obliterated.
What sort of cultural change are we talking about?
In some cases a synthesis has been achieved between old and new, in others the old survives alongside the new. There has been change, but there is also continuity. This is vividly illustrated in such fields as literature, music, dress and family life.