Method and Theory in American Archaeology

By Gordon R. Willey; Philip Phillips | Go to book overview
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Chapter 5
Archaic Stage

DEFINITIONS

Our previous use of the concept "Archaic" for the second stage of New World historical-developmental interpretation is here retained in its essentials. The term was introduced into the archaeology of eastern North America by William A. Ritchie, who applied it to his Lamoka phase in central New York.1 Soon after, the rich preceramic culture of the northern Alabama and Kentucky shell middens was revealed by the extensive excavations of W. S. Webb and his associates. Relationships to Lamoka were noted, and the term "Archaic" was extended accordingly, with a "pattern" significance in the Midwest taxonomy.2 About the same time, re- examination of earlier shell-midden investigations in the far Southeasts and excavations on the Georgia coast4 expanded the Archaic still further geographically and also slanted it toward the concept of a "Shellmound" culture. Similar extension was going on all over eastern North America, and there were suggestions that cultures as far away as California were somehow related.5 However, it was also becoming clear that the concept had outgrown its specific historical implications, and Griffin in his first synthesis of eastern

____________________
1
Ritchie, 1932. Alanson Skinner had previously designated certain projectile points from shell middens in the vicinity of Manhattan as "archaic" ( 1919, 1920), but Ritchie was apparently first to use the term in a full cultural sense.
2
Webb and DeJarnette, 1942.
3

Wyman, 1868, 1875; Claflin, 1931.

4
Unpublished work by Preston Holder and A. J. Waring, Jr.
5
Haag, 1942; Beardsley, 1948.

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