The Archaeology of Ocmulgee Old Fields, Macon Georgia. CAROL I. MASON. Classics in Southeastern Archaeology Series, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2005. xxi + 217 pp., tables, figures, illus., appendix, biblio., index. $29.95 (paper), ISBN 0-8173-5167-1.
Reviewed by R. Jeannine Windham
This volume is a good foundation for the mounting evidence of the early colonial period in central Georgia. Information presented by Mason was originally available in her dissertation, which focused on the English Trading Post and Lower Creek village located at Ocmulgee National Monument and occupied from 1685 to 1715. Since her original work, our understanding of the interactions of the Native Americans, the English, and the Spanish have progressed with the excavation of similar sites. Therefore, this volume does lack more current references and discussion, although Marvin Smith's forward does a good job of bringing the reader up to date on the topic.
Chapter 1 introduces the site setting and its relation to the regional cultural dichotomy during the early colonial period. This introduction flows into a discussion of the historical context and the issues that formed the relations between the meeting cultures. As the site was an English trading post, there is much discussion of trade as the catalyst for change in Lower Creek villages. The chapter succeeds in presenting historical documentation that illustrates the progression of the trade networks and the English-Spanish turmoil in the region. Further, this discussion outlines some of the most salient issues present just before the Yamasee War, namely, the fur and slave trades and the ensuing demand for goods and mistreatment of Native Americans. I found this introductory chapter to be of particular value, as it is well organized and thorough.
Part 1 of the book focuses on the archaeological evidence. Mason provides an excellent overview of the environmental setting and the various components that have formed Ocmulgee from prehistoric through historic times (chapter 2). This discussion is followed by chapters devoted to findings at the Trading House and the Lower Creek Town site (chapters 3 and 4). Hand-drawn maps are provided and are helpful but leave the reader wanting for more detail. However, the paucity of illustrations for the site excavations is an artifact of the times that can not be judged by current standards. Mason's descriptions provide views of the site, features, and their relationship that serve as a substitute for photographs and illustrations from the CWA and CCC excavations. It is within these chapters that Mason thoughtfully brings together the documentation available and overlays this within a historical and interpretative framework that deserves acknowledgment. Yet charts that outlined the numerous features according to type, inclusion of trade goods, and so on would have been a welcomed addition.
Artifacts collected from the Trading House and the Lower Creek Town are discussed in chapter 5. …