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Geochemical sourcing of fiber-tempered pottery and the organization of Late Archaic Stallings communities in the American Southeast

Gilmore, Zackary I., Sassaman, Kenneth E., Glascock, Michael D.
Journal of archaeological science 2018 v.99 pp. 35-46
archaeology, clay, neutron activation analysis, social behavior, society, villages, Georgia, Savannah River, South Carolina
The oldest pottery technology in North America was innovated by hunter-gatherers belonging to the Late Archaic Stallings culture (ca. 5150-3200 cal B.P.) of Georgia and South Carolina. The culture history of Stallings societies is relatively well-known; however, the permanence and scale of Stallings communities, the nature of the connections among them, and the extent to which they changed over time remain poorly understood. In this study, 450 samples Stallings pottery and 24 raw clay resource samples from along the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers were submitted for neutron activation analysis (NAA). The NAA results show a significant shift in the nature of vessel transport at the outset of the Classic Stallings phase (4100–3800 cal B.P.), an interval marked by the appearance of the region's first formalized circular villages and dedicated cemeteries. This shift involved the funneling of pots with carinated rims into a few major middle Savannah River mortuary sites, providing evidence for a novel Stallings sociality that combined relatively localized village life with periodic large-scale ritual gatherings.