In Praise of the Poet Archaeologist: Papers in Honor of Stanley South and His Five Decades of Historical Archaeology

By McCarthy, John P. | Southeastern Archaeology, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview
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In Praise of the Poet Archaeologist: Papers in Honor of Stanley South and His Five Decades of Historical Archaeology


McCarthy, John P., Southeastern Archaeology


In Praise of the Poet Archaeologist: Papers in Honor of Stanley South and His Five Decades of Historical Archaeology. LINDA F. CARNES-MCNAUGHTON and CARL STEEN (eds.). Publications in South Carolina Archaeology, No. 1, Council of South Carolina Professional Archaeologists, Columbia, 2005. 230 pp., 60 figs., 6 tables, biblio. $20.00 (paper).

Reviewed by John P. McCarthy

Stanley South has been a seminal figure in North American historical archaeology since the early 1970s. His was the third name I learned as a young student in the mid-1970s, right after those of Jim Deetz and Ivor Noel-Hume. This volume, honoring him, developed from a symposium that took place at the 2002 meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology in Mobile, Alabama. In as much as I was unable to attend that meeting, I was very pleased to see the publication of these papers.

The editors, Linda F. Carnes-McNaughton and Carl Steen, provide an introduction and a conclusion, framing the volume's 15 chapters. There is also a merged bibliography. In Praise of the Poet Archaeologist is arranged in four parts. Part 1 is biographical, and Carnes-McNaughton and Steen provide brief sketches of South's career, first in North Carolina and later in South Carolina. Part 2 focuses on evolutionary theory and cultural process and contains three chapters. It opens with some critical thoughts on the nature of historical archaeology by Lewis Binford. Kathleen Deagan then outlines how South's quantitative methods were adapted to Spanish America. Last is a proposal by South and Halcott Green to use recovered artifacts to measure the kilocalories of energy controlled by individuals and by groups.

Part 3 presents six diverse case studies using the pattern recognition techniques that South introduced to the discipline, and each of the authors acknowledges South's influence. In the first of these, Thomas Beaman compares the artifact patterns from four high-status Southern sites to South's Carolina pattern finding that lower proportions of kitchen artifacts, a difference that he attributes to increased spatial segregation of activities. Michael Stoner then uses spatial analysis to interpret a late-seventeenth-century, post-in-theground structure from the Charles Towne settlement. An analysis of artifact density is used to suggest that the building was a dwelling with its door was near the center of the east wall in a manner similar to that documented by South at eighteenth-century Brunswick Town. Kenneth Lewis's paper addresses the South Carolina backcountry as a settlement landscape that evolved over time from the 1740s to the 1770s. Martha Zierden then focuses on a single block in downtown Charleston and addresses how a primary deposit of eighteenth-century refuse from one elite household came to be found behind another elite dwelling, two doors away. She concludes that the lots in question were unimproved into the early nineteenth century and consequently received refuse from several sources when filled. Richard Polhemus considers the nails from the Tellico Blockhouse and the Keplinger Cabin sites in eastern Tennessee in his paper. Despite rapid changes in nail-manufacturing technology in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century when these sites were occupied, most of the nails were handwrought. He also identifies some door and window locations at the cabin site. Russell Skowronek looks at Spanish colonial culture in the Philippines where local elites used dwellings very differently from those in the Americas and Chinese porcelain was more common.

Part 4 is titled "Stan South, Teacher by Example, Poet by Nature" and consists of four chapters.

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