Time's River: Archaeological Syntheses from the Lower Mississippi River Valley

Time's River: Archaeological Syntheses from the Lower Mississippi River Valley

Time's River: Archaeological Syntheses from the Lower Mississippi River Valley

Time's River: Archaeological Syntheses from the Lower Mississippi River Valley

Synopsis

This volume stands as a key general resource for archaeologists working in the region extending from Louisiana through Mississippi north to Missouri and Kentucky, and it represents an opportunity to influence for decades a large part of the archaeological work to take place in the Southeast. a The book responds to a need for a comprehensive archaeological overview of the Lower Mississippi Valley that forms a portion of an interstate corridor spanning nine states that will run from southern Michigan to the Texas-Mexico border. The culturally sensitive Mississippi Delta is one of the richest archaeological areas in North America, and it is crucial that research designs be comprehensive, coordinated, and meet current preservation and future research needs. The authors are well-respected researchers from both within and outside the region with expertise in the full range of topics that comprise American archaeology. They examine matters of method and theory, the application of materials science, geophysics, and other high-tech tools in archaeology that provide for optimum data-recovery.

Contributors: Ian Brown, Kevin L. Bruce, Philip J. Carr, Robert C. Dunnell,

James Feathers, Gayle J. Fritz, Michael L. Galaty, S. Homes Hogue, H. Edwin Jackson, Jay K. Johnson, Carl P. Lipo, Hector Neff, Evan Peacock, Janet Rafferty, James H. Turner, John R. Underwood, Amy L. Young

Excerpt

Janet Rafferty and Evan Peacock

I mention the incestuous nature of archaeology in the [southern Central
Mississippi Valley] area because it is sometimes advantageous to introduce
new blood into old debates.

— Starr 2003:27

Much of the archaeology done in the world today is carried out via cultural resource management, or crm. We believe that crm is first and foremost a research pursuit, in the sense that documenting the archaeological rec ord in order to learn from it is the main justification for the field. But it is a research pursuit with its own particular set of difficulties. the gray literature status of most crm reports, and the fact that crm archaeologists publish journal articles on their projects only infrequently (a result of job expectations, time pressures, and other influences), lessen the scholarly impact of this kind of work. It also allows agencies to tolerate workmanlike description rather than insisting on new approaches and demonstrable increments to knowledge. There are admirable exceptions, but all too often crm work languishes in the backwaters of archaeology, not only in terms of theory but also in terms of method and contributions to substantive knowledge. One can see this in many recent synthetic volumes, where crm reports are poorly represented in the bibliographies.

It could be argued that crm is primarily a vocation, a set of methods for retrieving materials so that their research potential remains intact. But, because methods derive from theory, an emphasis on method alone cannot be defended. Clearly there is more than one way to do things, and clearly there should be theoretically justifiable reasons for doing things one way rather than another. crm archaeologists— indeed, all archaeologists— also must contend with the need to accommodate future investigations using the materials they have collected. No one set of research problems should be an excuse for collecting data in such a way as to preclude addressing other problems. This is in . . .

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