Prehistory of West Virginia - Other Woodland Cultures - Summary


As science evolves, James B. Griffin of the University of Michigan in a later publication, 1992 page 53, writes, "Fort Ancient is a construct of archaeologists conceived in error, perpetuated by conceptual rigidity, and misinterpreted by some serious and imagininative archaeologists." Myra Jayne Giesen, "Generally, Fort Ancient phases are thought to reflect geograghic differences rather than temporal differences." Adjoining the Feurt Phase on the Hocking Valley, and the Baldwin Phase, Joseph E. Wakeman writes, concerning late 19th century and early 20th century archaeology then concentrating primarily on ceramic (and point) studies, "Hocking Valley communities of the LP period may be better described without the baggage that the term Fort Ancient carries. These communities should be viewed as a tribal, agriculturally based, nucleated, permanent settlements that demonstrate variability in their material culture (even the ceramics) within the boundaries of a watershed". Like the Hocking Valley in adjoining Ohio, as opposed to Wood County of the Feurt Phase, the Ohio River tributary rivers have geographically similar canoe navigable feeder streams with branching watershed creek hollows. Western West Virginia and south-eastern Ohio share the physiograghic division called the 'unglaciated' Allegheny Plateau of steeper hills and cliffs than the glaciated Central Low Lands or the "Till Plains". Seventy nine percent of Central Ohio Valley Fort Ancient Communities are found on the Terrace Bluff or Upland and forty eight percent of multicomponent sites are located on similar terrain.

Some late prehistoric Eastern Woodland tribes were closer to hunter or fishery phases, practicing the slash and burn Eastern Agricultural Complex gardening method. Following the practices of the ancient indigenous people of the state, fields and time were given to tobacco growing through to the early historic period among certain tribes. Another group progressed to the more time consuming advanced companion crop fields method of gardening. Eventually tribal villages began relying heavily on maize to feed their turkey flocks, as Kanawha Fort Ancients practiced bird husbandry. A population of 50 to something over 100 people was common and sometimes 175 or more villagers of the Monongahelan. Late prehistoric (950-1550 CE) villages were sparse across the greater region. A tribe would relocate to an old field within a several county territory along and crossing the saddles of the valleys. This practice continued into the historic: Mingo Flats was well off the popular route south, The Seneca Trail. As with a few others remaining throughout the state, its village smoke would not be smelled along the raider's thoroughfare.

"The Fort Ancient tradition follows the Late Woodland period within the Ohio River Valley. Joining trees (DNA Analysis) revealed that the Ohio Hopewell do not group with samples from Fort Ancient populations of the Ohio River Valley, but with samples from Glacial Kame, Adena or Norris Farms, possibly indicating some relationship between the groups. This in part could be due to small sample size and a low number of sites that have been amplified. More work within all of the Ohio River Valley cultures is needed to give a clearer picture to archaeologists, linguists and biological anthropologists alike." Lisa A. Mills, (Ohio State University 2003, preliminary DNA research).

Further information: Protohistory of West Virginia

Read more about this topic:  Prehistory Of West Virginia, Other Woodland Cultures

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