Rethinking Moundville and Its Hinterland

By Vincas P. Steponaitis; C. Margaret Steponaitis | Go to book overview

Foreword

In many ways this volume is the legacy of research begun at Moundville in the 1960s by Christopher Spalding Peebles, who died unexpectedly in Bloomington, Indiana, on April 16, 2012. Chris left behind a rich and complicated record of scholarship, one that is difficult to understand, not the least because he did not have the time to complete a synthetic overview of what he had accomplished. Nonetheless, it is possible to integrate the many perspectives within which he worked, and such an integration makes it clear why he was so pleased with the papers given in his honor at the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Atlanta in 2009, which have been revised and supplemented to constitute this volume.

I first met Chris Peebles in 1965 at the Central States Archaeological Societies meeting in Champaign-Urbana. He had finished his bachelor’s work at Chicago in both anthropology and philosophy and was moving on to graduate work. While at Chicago, he had worked with Lewis Binford at the Carlyle Reservoir in Illinois, learning completely new methods of surface survey, excavation, and settlement analysis. Several of us drove from Chicago to the meetings, talking heatedly about archaeology, Hopewell and Mississippian societies, and our understanding of chiefdoms at that time. Chris was, to my surprise, very cautious, drawing on southeastern ethnohistory to criticize models derived from Polynesia, and most circumspect about what he might learn from the mortuary record of Moundville, an effort he was already planning. During the rest of his career, Chris used his understanding that the archaeological and ethnohistorical records of the Southeast form a continuous cultural record with great elegance. The contact period did not provide “analogies” for the past but were a later phase of dynamic cultural traditions for which any explanatory propositions must account.

Chris did graduate work with Albert Clanton Spaulding at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His dissertation studies were under

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