Transitions: Archaic and Early Woodland Research in the Ohio Country

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Transitions: Archaic and Early Woodland Research in the Ohio Country Martha P. Otto and Brian G. Redmond, editors. 396 pages, 123 figures, 29 tables, bibliography. Athens: Ohio University Press 2008 (published January 2009). $29.95, paper, ISBN 978-0-8214-1797-3; $59.95, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-8214-1796-6.

It is always exciting to see a new overview volume that provides a summary update of regional archaeological research on a particular topic. Martha Otto and Brian Redmond have assembled just such a volume on Ohio Late Archaic and Early Woodland research, focusing on the much-debated question of Adena origins and culture change during the era from Late Archaic times to the Middle Woodland period, with its associated dramatic Ohio Hopewellian earthwork construction, mortuary ritual, and interregional acquisition of exotic raw materials and artifacts. The research focus of the present volume is primarily upon the first of these two Transitions: that between Late Archaic and Adena.

The editors have assembled 13 separately authored chapters for the volume. Eleven of the chapters evaluate Ohio archaeological remains, one discusses excavations at a cluster of Early Woodland habitation sites just across the state line in western Pennsylvania, and one interprets Adena and Hopewell earthwork sites in adjacent east-central Indiana.

The first three chapters in the volume focus on identifying regional and site-specific attributes of settlement patterns and subsistence at Late and Terminal Archaic habitation sites in Ohio. Kent D. Vickery's contribution (Chapter 1) summarizes the author's research on Archaic settlement patterns and chronology in southwestern Ohio for the entire Archaic period. In Chapter 2, Craig S. Keener et al. evaluate habitation remains and land-use patterns from 329 Archaic components located by CRM surveys along the proposed construction corridor for State Route 30. In Chapter 3, Matthew P. Purtill documents Archaic settlement remains and occupation chronology at a single excavated Ohio River floodplain site. The Purtill study comes closest of the three to providing any "connecting tissue" for the Archaic to Early Woodland transition, but it is more tantalizing than informative: "Although 1000 B.C. is often forwarded as die beginning of the Woodland period . . . site occupants were essentially participating in a generalized Archaic' lifeway as late as 600 B.C. Typical Early Woodland vestiges such as stemmed points, thick-walled pottery, food items of the Eastern Agricultural Complex, and elaborate ceremonialism were limited, or entirely lacking at Davisson Farm" (p. 77).

Chapter 4, by David M. Stoibers and Timothy J. Able, puts a little more meat on these transitional bones. Their chapter is an important regional summary of Lake Erie-area settlement and mortuary ritual between ca. 2500 B.C. and A.D. 1-including a grouping of "Transitional" period sites (ca. 1000-600 B.C.) between the Late Archaic and Early Woodland occupations there. The Stothers and Able study evaluates both ritual and subsistence elements of local societies during these three periods.

Chapters 5 through 8 summarize and evaluate habitation-site excavation data in regional context from Early Woodland floodplain and upland residential sites (Chapter 5 by James A. Robertson et al. and 8 by John F. Schweikart), from a residential site that includes a submound-like pairedpost structure (with no mound covering) between two clusters of habitation features (Chapter 6 by Anne B. Lee et al.), and from stratigraphie excavations of habitation remains at the pre-Adena Munson Springs Early Woodland mound site (Chapter 7). As Paul J. Pacheco and Jarrad Burks note in Chapter 7 (p. …