Archaic Societies

Diversity and Complexity across the Midcontinent

Edited by Thomas E. Emerson, Dale L. McElrath, and Andrew C. Fortier

Subjects: Indigenous Studies
Paperback : 9781438427027, 891 pages, October 2011
Hardcover : 9781438427010, 891 pages, March 2009

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Table of contents

List of Figures
List of Tables


I. An Archaic Overview

1. An Introduction to the Archaic Societies of the Midcontinent
Dale L. McElrath, Andrew C. Fortier, and Thomas E. Emerson
2. The Eastern Woodlands Archaic and the Tyranny of Theory
Thomas E. Emerson and Dale L. McElrath

3. Archaic Faunal Exploitation in the Prairie Peninsula and Surrounding Regions of the Midcontinent
Bonnie W. Styles and R. Bruce McMillan

4. A Regional and Chronological Synthesis of Archaic Period Plant Use in the Midcontinent
Mary L. Simon

5. Archaic Burial Sites in the American Midcontinent
George R. Milner, Jane E. Buikstra, and Michael D.Wiant

6. Dalton and the Early Holocene Midcontinent: Setting the Stage
Brad Koldehoff and John A.Walthall
II. Stratigraphic Sequences in the Archaic Period
7. Archaic Prehistory of the Western Ozarks of Southwest Missouri
Jack H. Ray, Neal H. Lopinot, and Edwin R. Hajic

8. Dated Projectile Point Sequences from Modoc Rock Shelter and Applications of Assemblage-Based Analysis
Steven R. Ahler and Brad Koldehoff
9. The Archaic Period in the Lower Illinois River Basin
Michael D. Wiant, Kenneth B. Farnsworth, and Edwin R. Hajic
10. Archaic Period Chronology in the Hill Country of Southern Indiana
C. Russell Stafford and Mark Cantin

III. The Mississippi River Region
11. The American Bottom:An Archaic Cultural Crossroads
Dale L. McElrath, Andrew C. Fortier, Brad Koldehoff, and Thomas E. Emerson
12 Archaic Period of East-Central Missouri
Joseph L. Harl

13. Archaic Cultural Variation and Lifeways in West-Central Illinois
David J. Nolan and Richard L. Fishel

14. Archaic Periods in Eastern Iowa
David W. Benn and Joe B.Thompson

IV. The Ohio River Region and Southeast

15. The Ohio Archaic: A Review
Matthew P. Purtill

16. Land between the Rivers:The Archaic Period of Southernmost Illinois
Brian M. Butler

17. Archaic Cultures of Western Kentucky
Richard W. Jefferies

18. The View from the Southeast
Tristram R. Kidder and Kenneth E. Sassaman

V. The Great Lakes

19. The Archaic Tradition in Wisconsin
Thomas C. Pleger and James B. Stoltman

20. Hunter-Gatherer Adaptations and Alternative Perspectives on the Michigan Archaic: Research Problems in Context
William A. Lovis

21. Defining the Archaic in Northern Illinois
Rochelle Lurie, Douglas Kullen, and Scott J. Demel

22. At the Crossroads and Periphery:The Archaic Archaeological Record of Southern Ontario
Christopher Ellis, Peter A.Timmins, and Holly Martelle

VI. Concluding Comments

23. Concluding Thoughts on the Archaic Occupation of the Eastern Woodlands
Dale L. McElrath and Thomas E. Emerson


Essential overview of American Indian societies during the Archaic period across central North America.


Sweeping and detailed, this long-awaited volume is an indispensable guide to the Archaic period across the midcontinent. Archaeologists throughout the region share the latest excavation results and analytical perspectives to reveal and reinterpret the worlds of those Native peoples who lived there for some 9,000 years (up to about 3,000 years ago). Of particular concern is the establishment of relative and absolute chronologies for the Archaic period, the relationships between the artifacts left behind and the peoples who made and used them, and the changing interactions between cultures, climate, and landscape. Archaeologists offer useful, up-to-date overviews of Archaic societies, assessment of stratigraphic sequences, and detailed discussions of finds and interpretations from the Mississippi and Ohio river regions and the Great Lakes. Comprehensive and accessible, this landmark book is a must for anyone wanting to understand a crucial but little-understood period in North America's prehistory.

Thomas E. Emerson is Director of the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP), a joint program of the University of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation. At ITARP, Dale L. McElrath is Senior Cultural Resource Archaeologist and Statewide Survey Coordinator, and Andrew C. Fortier is Special Projects Coordinator. Archaic Societies is a companion volume to their Late Woodland Societies: Tradition and Transformation across the Midcontinent.


"…Archaic Societies represents a substantive resource for professional archaeologists, and a comprehensive summary of a time and place that profoundly influenced North American history … it is particularly valuable because it draws together considerable information that might otherwise reside in unpublished or obscurely published reports…" — Canadian Journal of Native Studies

"This book will be the standard reference for this topic for decades to come." — American Anthropologist

"This piece of scholarship is truly monumental … As someone who is interested in this time period and hunter-gatherers, I heartily recommend professional archaeologists purchase a copy. It is a volume that will be referenced and consulted for years to come … [E]ven if you are not an archaeologist, reading this work will give you a good sense of the tremendous amount of diversity and innovation during this period." — Victor D. Thompson, American Indian Culture and Research Journal

"…an indispensable source for all students of the Archaic." — Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology

"…a tome rich in detail/minutiae and broad in scope … a welcome addition to any archaeologist's library." — Northwest Ohio History