Analyzes Mississippian daily life at Cahokia’s environs during wartime
In Life in a Mississippian Warscape: Common Field, Cahokia, and the Effects of Warfare Meghan E. Buchanan posits that to understand the big histories of warfare, political fragmentation, and resilience in the past archaeologists must also analyze and interpret the microscale actions of the past. These are the daily activities of people before, during, and after historical events. Within warscapes, battles take place in peoples’ front yards, family members die, and the impacts of violence in near and distant places are experienced on a daily basis. This book explores the microscale of daily lives of people living at Common Field, a large, palisaded mound center, during the period of Cahokia’s abandonment and the spread of violence and warfare throughout the Southeast.
Linking together ethnographic, historic, and archaeological sources, Buchanan discusses the evidence that the people of Common Field engaged in novel and hybrid practices in these dangerous times. At the microscale, they adopted new ceramic tempering techniques, produced large numbers of serving vessels decorated with warfare-related imagery, adapted their food practices, and erected a substantial palisade with specially prepared deposits. The overall picture that emerges at Common Field is of a people who engaged in risk-averse practices that minimized their exposure to outside of the palisade and attempted to seek intercession from otherworldly realms through public ceremonies involving warfare-related iconography.
Meghan E. Buchanan is associate professor of anthropology at Auburn University. She is the coeditor of Tracing the Relational: The Archaeology of Worlds, Spirits, and Temporalities.
“A theoretically nuanced and data-rich addition to our archaeological understanding of Mississippian warfare. This is a must-read for those interested in the historical interplay of violence, foodways, and identity.” —Gregory D. Wilson, coeditor of The Archaeology of Food and Warfare: Food Insecurity in Prehistory
“This volume is an innovative look at the role of warfare in Mississippian societies that convincingly argues we can identify the presence and effects of warfare in the past. Through an examination of settlement patterns, ceramic and zooarchaeological Buchanan creates a compelling narrative that interprets archaeological data with an anthropological understanding of the daily costs of living through warfare.” —Maureen Meyers, coeditor of Contact, Colonialism, and Native Communities in the Southeastern United States