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Violence, symbols, and the archaeological record: A case study of Cahokia's Mound 72

Dissertation
Author: Kathryn M. Koziol
Abstract:
Acts of violence are not always easily distinguished in their form. Given the additional difficulties caused by the obscure nature of the archaeological record, it is no wonder that interpretations of these behaviors are so skewed both between and within fields of research. There is little consistency in this academic dialogue, which prevents researchers from grappling with the larger perspectives that should be approached. For instance, just how far back in our human history have events such as genocide occurred? Are these modern in origin? The scale of ancient events and our anthropological scopes need more adjustment to the unique conditions of the archaeological context if we seek to gain the deep-time perspective. In this dissertation, I am opening that dialogue between the fields of anthropology by comparing modern cases of violence to some events in the distant past by using Mound 72, Cahokia as the case study. Ultimately, I conclude that our current definitions of populations that are protected by international laws do not reflect current anthropological thinking, across all fields, about the flexibility in notions of population identity and identification. The rigid interpretations that have been employed to date in these laws are too restrictive and do little to enhance the protection for many targeted populations.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract Approval sheet Copyright page Dissertation duplication release Acknowledgments Dedication Contents List of Figures List of Tables Chapters I.INTRODUCTION II.VIOLENCE, PEACEMAKING, AND THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL PAST A.Anthropological Theories of Violent Acts 1.Biological Models 2.Cultural Models 3.Evolutionary Models 4.Environmental Models B.Exploring Modern Examples in Archaeological Research C.Mass Violence and the Archaeological Record 5.Informing Research with Modern Examples 6.Anticipated trends III.PREHISTORIC VIOLENCE IN THE NEW WORLD D.Essentialism as an Interpretive Trap E.Scope and Scaling 7.Scope: An Anthropologist's Perspective 8.Scale 9.Causation F.Evidence of Violence in the New World 10.Bioarchaeological 11.Archaeological 12.Iconographic 13.Ethnohistoric and Historical Records 14.Oral Traditions G.Bringing the Evidence Together ii iii iv v vi ix x xiii xiv 1 27 34 36 39 40 43 47 51 52 61 64 66 70 72 75 81 83 84 87 89 92 99 102 x

IV.SOCIALLY INDUCED TRAUMA: AD 900-1350 H.Overview of Patterned Violence 15.Consolidation, Defense, Locations, Bufferzones 16.Cahokia's Mound 72, Illinois 17.Aztalan, Wisconsin 18.Orendorf Site, Illinois 19.East St. Louis, Illinois 20.Fortifications and Pathological Evidence 21.Dickson Mounds, Illinois 22.Larson Village, West-Central Illinois 23.Moundville, Alabama 24.Fisher Site (11W11), Illinois 25.Norris Farms 36, Illinois 26.Crow Creek Site (39BF11), South Dakota 27.Larson Village and Larson Site, South Dakota I.Summary and Discussion V.CASE STUDY: CAHOKIA'S MIDDLE MISSISSIPPIAN MOUND 72 J.Cahokia's Physical and Cultural Background K.Mortuary Setting at Cahokia 28.Mound 72 Burials a.Non-killed Pit Burials b.Killed Pit Burials c.The Shell-Bird and Retainer Burials d.Charnel House Burials e.Secondary Bundle Burials 29.Defining the Differentially Killed L.Interpretations of Death and Burial in Mound 72 30.Recontextualizing M.Early Mississippian Violence and the Peacemaking VI.CAPTIVITY AT CAHOKIA N.Rethinking the Mound 72 Mortuary Context 31.Economic Models and Captive Identity 32.Captivity During the Early Historic Period O.The Differential Burials of Captives 33.Paleopathological Evidence of Distance 34.Cultural Evidence of Social Distance P.Differential Captivity 105 108 113 115 124 126 127 128 131 132 133 135 138 140 146 148 152 153 160 164 165 166 168 171 176 176 181 186 187 190 193 194 196 198 202 208 211 xi

Q.Summary VII.RE-INTERPRETING STATUS IN MORTUARY CONTEXT R.Representations of what? S.Rethinking Status in Mound 72 35.Intentional Deaths/Killings T.Captives as Human Capital: Symbolic Displays of Power 36.Representation of an Imposed Identity U.Summary VIII.APPLYING THE TERM GENOCIDE V.Defining and Recognizing Genocidal Behavior W.Problematizing Classifications of Genocidal Actions X.Components of Genocide Y.Natural Categories? Target Populations and Communities Z.Visible Indications of Genocide 37.Violence Targeting the Body 38.Violence Targeting the Mentality of Populations 39.Violence Targeting Population Reproduction Za.Issues in Discerning Intent, Systematic Zb.Recognizing Genocidal Behaviors Zc. Summary IX.CONCLUDING THOUGHTS X.WORKS CITED XI.APPENDIX 214 216 218 223 233 241 243 247 249 251 256 263 267 275 278 280 284 287 292 296 298 304 333 xii

LIST OF FIGURES 2.1 Catlinite calumet pipe. 3.1 Engraving by Theodor de Bry, Plate XXXI. Village on fire. 3.2 Engraved whelk shell. Bird-man on shell, Craig B style. 3.3 Effigy pipe. Warrior decapitating captive. 3.4 Engraving by Theodor de Bry, Plate XIV. Trophies on display. 4.1 Map of included archaeological sites displaying various forms of violence. 4.2 Map of included archaeological sites from the American Bottom. 5.1 Map of Mound 72 with inset images of captives. 5.2 Killed captives from Feature 229 Lower. 5.3 More captives from Feature 229 Lower. 5.4 Pile burials 121, 122A, and 122B from Feature 219. 5.5 Burials 119 and 120 from charnel house feature. 6.1 Engraving by Theodor de Bry, Plate XXIX. Black drink ceremony. 7.1 Engraved shell gorget. Catalian Springs site in Sumner County Tennessee. 7.2 Burial 220 from Feature 229 Lower. Note fingers digging into the soil. 28 88 90 90 91 110 111 161 167 168 173 175 210 236 239 xiii

LIST OF TABLES 4.1 Timeline of violence experienced at the sites included in chapter. 4.2 Chart of the type of violence at included archaeological sites. 6.1 Cahokian and Non-Cahokians rates of periostitis and hyperostosis. 112 149 200 xiv

--CHAPTER ONE-- INTRODUCTION Capable of concurrently performing both great and terrible actions, human social behaviors will never cease to intrigue. The oscillations between violent and peaceful events help shape the relationships and socio-political routes taken by populations in defining themselves and others. The contexts of these relationships can then be constructed with the symbols of the conquerors imposed onto the conquered, including using the conquered individuals in ritual performances social difference and/or of important mythic events. War and peace are not discrete social constructions, but they overlap and recursively inform any future social relationships between individuals and groups. Archaeologists are able to reconstruct aspects of these related behaviors from archaeological evidence; thus revealing contingent social relationships that connect communities. For instance, in the Mississippian cultures living in the Midwest and into the Southeast, we can distinguish items included in archaeological contexts that denote peace and those that were derived from contexts of war. This is because there has been widespread continuity in the material items used to signal these behaviors (Hall 1997; Dye 2009). These specialized items included: pipes, clubs, arrows, axes, and other items that are identifiable in both archaeological and historic contexts. The widespread continuity in these items demonstrate their stability as symbolic markers. The burial of several groups of killed and non-killed individuals in Mound 72, at the prehistoric Mississippian site of Cahokia in Illinois, demonstrate how complicated relationships that developed from religious and secular behaviors can be tangled in 1

archaeological contexts. This mortuary context importantly includes performances of mythic relationships (Brown 2003), while also performing ideas of social difference that included gender, age, and other differences that are interpreted in this discussion as related to captivity status. Since the Mound 72 context contains evidence of multiple forms of violence, it is an interesting case study to explore ideas of overlap in patterns of violence in an archaeological setting, as well as forcing us to deconstruct how these categories have been conceptualized and applied in previous studies. In current contexts, anthropologists can observe how warring and peaceful behaviors develop and shift, and how they are often occurring simultaneously. Despite the impossibilities of gaining entirely precise and absolute insight into any specific individual's personal circumstances, or the range in their personally defined identities in both modern and archaeological settings, we should not lose sight of the concept of shifting and fluid subjectivity; whereby individuals and groups can coetaneously identify with differing factions and perform actions that are seemingly contradictory on the surface. The continued awareness of these situational contexts, and their resulting fluctuations in identity and positionality, enable researchers to avoid unintentionally writing about violence in both romanticizing and diminishing fashions. Keeping within this frame encourages our reconstructions to delve more deeply into the intersections between interpersonal relationships that are formed based on many coexisting relations and can best be described as contingently formed (Piot 1999). Looking to our past and using archaeological examples in the exploration of violence fosters the deep-time perspective that only archaeology can provide. This perspective also helps us view how these actions have developed and transitioned over 2

long periods of human history; pushing the presence of these encounters into the distant past. The longevity of the practices of war, peace, and violence, in general, are crucial areas of research for those who hope to understand population-level social relationships that are sometimes tenuous. Some researchers have even written about group-level violence as a recent adaptation, and even portray non-westerners as incapable of performing violent actions prior to European expansion (Blick 1988). This reluctance to include indigenous populations in the discussions of communal violence has been largely critiqued (Chacon and Dye 2007; Martin and Frayer 1997), and is pointed out as a blatant form of romanticism derived from Western guilt in how indigenous populations have been historically mistreated by colonial governments and intellectualism alike. It is important to know and understand the longevity and range of these events, even if all we can gather are complicated and incomplete contexts of the situations from which they developed. If we gloss over the past, or refused to critically evaluate these contexts with a current understanding of flexibility of these behaviors, then we will learn nothing from these experiences. The presentations of romanticized views of past social interactions have recently shifted. More scholars are participating in careful discussions which assess communal violence in prehistoric and in non-state societies; however, there is still a clear sense of romanticism. For instance, the perspective that indigenous individuals and populations participated in actions of violence because they had to in order to survive in a beast-filled world, or were simplistically performing their beliefs—without a critical evaluation of the extent of these practices—still lingers. The performance of mythic ideas or rituals do not need to exclude relationships involving secular violence. A similar romanticism is 3

contained in some current mythico-histories (Malkki 1995) recorded about modern violence. In some cases, populations who were previously attacked by a competing population that was seen as warlike and destructive caused the former population to interpret their own actions, no matter how brutal or even if they were preemptive, as performed in self-defense (Malkki 1995; Mamdani 2001). This bias remains particularly visible in the writings that act to justify violent events, such as large-scale wars, and systematic killings of populations or identifiable groups who were not deemed desirable for social participation by their attackers (Destexhe 1995; Markusen 1996; Scheper- Hughes and Bourgois 2004:14), but is also in operation on a smaller scale. Furthermore, the scale of recent events casts large shadows in which past instances and eruptions of violence are hidden: rendered as hardly comparable because of simplistic and misleading population casualty counts. For instance, genocide tends to be linked to only very large-scale killing events while massacres are used to explain smaller- scale killings; these categories do not explain differences and similarities in the root causes and intentionality that should be the focal point in explaining distinctions in forms of violence. Exploring these dark events allows us to reveal more details about the social dynamics of past contexts, even when they are not peaceful constructed. Additionally, this refocusing points to present conditions that are sometimes striking in their scale as enabled by industrialization. As such, these events demonstrate that the scale of modern violence cannot be used to evaluate past contexts. This is because the scale of violent events are limited by technology, not just by the motivations of the perpetrators. The limits of the technology used in these events can disguise the behaviors that were intended to eradicate another population, by limiting the number of individuals killed. 4

The Development of this Dissertation The more data that I gathered and compiled, the more difficult it became to develop arguments that avoided or ignored discussions that characterized the violence experienced by some of the Mound 72 interments as related to their assumed status as ritual sacrifice participants. It was apparent that to begin my assessment of the violent behavior used in the construction of this mortuary context that I first needed to deconstruct how researchers categorize and understand violence. It became additionally apparent that the boundaries between forms of violence, and discussions of longevity of specific behaviors, were absent in archaeological interpretations of violence (Chacon and Dye 2007; Martin and Frayer 1997). I asked myself why these discussions were absent and/or avoided, only to settle on the conclusion that the topic is somewhat an anthropological taboo. Instead of missing the violent events (Geertz 1995) I was delving deeply into these and their archeological reconstructions. This continued the path of recent discussions which demonstrate that prior to colonialism indigenous populations were capable and willing to perform the same heinous actions that were once believed to be derived from European behaviors—brought to distant regions during periods of European expansion. This topical taboo led to a initial discomfort and even my own silent reluctance to continue to pursue this topic, which was enveloped by the history and images surrounding violent events, until I realized that I was participating in the same romanticism (Ellingson 2001; Gallay 2002; Pagden 1982, 1993; Rabasa 2000). What made this endeavor more difficult was that I was not looking to simply explore warfare models, but instead I wanted to know what the violence exhibited in Mound 72 meant. Were these individuals killed and interred in this mound victims of 5

warfare or other violent actions? Can we identify when these actions overlap? Were these victims and non-victims both part of a mythic performance demonstrating Cahokian piety and reverence, or were Cahokians performing their communal identity that dominated outsider populations? Did the killed individuals' participation work to gain prestige for their respective kin groups? And if any of the proceeding questions could be answered “yes,” then how could I go about demonstrating these links in my reconstruction of these past circumstances? Would meaning being obtainable on any level? The answers to these questions could not be explained using theories of warfare, but perhaps there were answers in the larger study of communal violence. Violence research is a related but distinctive field from archaeological explorations of warfare and raiding behaviors. Warfare studies are often focused on reporting the extent and context of events that often had visible, material goals, and tend to relate these behaviors to strategies for gaining resources and prestige in these contexts. These studies ignore the questions that deal with group identity (and ethnicity) formation that can sometimes emerge or gain strength through violent interactions and communal performances of group identity. Additionally, these communally held identities can in some cases, albeit limited, be reconstructed by archaeologists. In other words, it was not warfare that I was most interested in researching for this project; rather my interests were more focused on the larger categories of violence and the performances of communal identities through these actions. Further, I wanted to explore how archaeologists reconstruct and classify violent events. What I found was that there was little discussion focused on developing a language of violence that could be used to categorize these events. We need to create a 6

flexible interpretive scope that goes beyond singular sites and into the regional dynamics. What this means is that instead of reporting violence as isolated events we need to continue to rigorously relate these events to their region. I do not think that any archaeologists would disagree with the importance in elucidating the regional dynamics, but we need to commit more fully to these goals. How do past events of violence inform the present? How have the expressions of violent acts changed? Is genocide a modern behavior or can it be demonstrated in the distant past? For months, these three questions repeated in the dark recesses of my mind despite my aforementioned efforts to avoid them. As I tried to move away from these and refocus my discussion on the deciphering of mythic symbolism, abundantly included in the Mound 72 context, these questions developed into shouts. The shifts and overlaps in the mythic symbolism furthered my determination to get back to previous questions. I could no longer silence these lingering thoughts because I realized that they had significantly shaped that mortuary performance and context, and to ignore these I would have continued to simply miss or further overlook the violence. After returning to the original questions that I had proposed to research surrounding Mississippian expressions and patterns of violence I then had to ask myself whose story I wanted to tell; the captor's or the captive's. I chose to explore the latter, because it allowed me to demonstrate several important principles relating to current and recent used mortuary theories. Notably, this discussion includes the inclusion-exclusion of individuals and groups into a new population, and so the interpretation of multi- population contexts was essential. These become especially befuddled when dealing with captive populations and notions of status, position, and even authority. These notions are 7

often gleaned by archaeologists as shared or are interpreted as segmented parts contained with the society at large, and are then reduced in the mortuary interpretations. These are both hugely problematic interpretations when the population is clearly not homogeneous. What is conveyed is the imposed status, position, and removal of authority by the population of the captor. We should not simply squeeze the captives into the local social system, particularly when the captives of unknown status, and not simply “low status” individuals (i.e., these captives are distinctive from other low status Cahokians) are made to participate in lethal activities. Heterogeneous populations are currently the bane of mortuary theorists. First, when we are looking at the burial context of a site where there is evidence of killed foreign individuals interred alongside the local residents, we should not try to fit these into simple categories of economic, political, nor even religious status. There is little reason to believe that these statuses or positions were the primary mortuary symbolism, nor the structure shaping all burial contexts. For instance, if we take James Brown's (2003) recent notion of Mound 72 at Cahokia as a tableau for mythic performances, then economic arguments (i.e., those that directly relate the grave goods to concepts of status or positionality) might not have been at all important in the construction of Mound 72. In these cases, the grave goods may be more appropriately viewed more as props, costumes —these are still hugely important and are often imbued with great social and performative power, yet they are not necessarily tied to the individual who is using these. Secondly, there is little reason to assume that the foreigners would participate in the economic, social, or political status systems of their captor's population. Therefore, relating the captive experience at Cahokia to the experience of the Natchez may not 8

provide the best fit. Among the Natchez, the mortuary rituals of the elite Suns included the killing of retainers (Swanton 1911; 1946). These retainers were members of the Natchez population and gained prestige for their kin by willingly, at least by performing their willingness to die to accompany their leaders, which would not have been available to foreigners. These ideas are developed later in chapters five and six. Lastly, and this is likely a result of my extensive anthropological training, I felt a personal desire to tell the story that had been glossed over in the past. Approach to the Research Questions Comparative Method A comparative approach was used to isolate patterns between modern and ancient events. Since many of the individuals interred in the Mound 72 context were killed it was appropriate to dig deeper into the anthropological and archaeological literature on violence and captivity. This broadly comparative approach encourages the mortuary interpretations to expand beyond economic models of status. This then allows archaeologists to connect larger symbolic themes that are present at several locations that have traditionally been ignored based on the quantity and quality of materials used to reconstruct these themes. Deconstruction of the Categories of Violence There is little scholarly cohesion with the terminology used to describe acts of violence. Some, like Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois (2004) see violence as continuum with no clear boundaries between forms. This interpretation see the forms 9

as overlapping and as not easily identifiable. The utility of this view of violence as a continuum is that this would allow the monitoring or at least the evaluation of acts of violence as leading to other more severe forms. However, it does have some large complications and a reductionist quality. For example, if we were to put something like domestic violence on this continuum, should we view and treat the perpetrator of these actions as an eventual potential perpetrator of genocide? Although this was not Scheper- Hughes and Bourgois (2004) goal in explaining violence as a continuum of genocide it seems to reduce the motivations of different acts of violence and shifts the focus to the scale and intensity of the event(s). It is not as simple as to say that there are no categories of violence in Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois analysis, in fact their anthology is divided in to sections that include both physical and non-physical (i.e., structural violence, and the politics of poverty) forms of violence with the goal of classification. However, the concept of a genocide continuum may unintentionally reduce the impact of acts of violence seen as lower on the scale. Furthermore, how should we measure these acts of violence? On the other side of interpreting terms of violence, some follow the strict letter of definitions and by doing so limit the inclusion of events that do not conform perfectly to the definitions of each category. For example, the term genocide was first defined by Rafael Lemkin following the Nazi led Holocaust in World War II and the 1915 Armenian exile. The resulting definition includes protection for individuals who are targeted based on race, religion, ethnicity, and nationality. What is hugely problematic with this definition is that simply does not work in many cases of genocide because of the dated view of population identity. It was constructed to help explain what Lemkin thought was 10

a new trend in warfare, what Mark Markusen terms as a trend in total war, where the entire population, not just the combatants are included in violent actions. I argue that this behavior should not be constructed by the intellectual community as focused on actions against racial or other biological population differences which perhaps are not as clearly defined as previously thought. Interestingly, the biological categories overlap so much with the social categories that even those who are deeply engaged in these behaviors are not always certain of the biological backgrounds of those whom are targeted for destruction, and thus require identification cards, or other markers, to make these relationships visible. Problematically, perspectives that seek biologically or ethnically distinctive populations targeted by violence can encourage people and agencies to falsely assume that only one group will be targeted in the enactment of these behaviors. We need to remember that these activities do not to target the “them” but can also target the “not us” for destruction. Remember, the Nazis did not target one population but targeted several groups who they disassociated with to the point of dehumanization and widely accepted acquiescence and even systematic participation by ordinary citizens who simply allowed others to enact these behaviors (Kovach 2006). To further situate myself theoretically, I do not believe that any derivative of cultural evolution can sufficiently explain the emergence or forms that shape violent events (Carneiro 1970; Knauft 1987). The degree of socio-political complexity and advances in technology may increase the visibility of these events, but only as aided by the media and the temporal proximity of the event to the present. In other words, violence is not part of a societal progression nor is it linear in its development and performance. 11

Full document contains 357 pages
Abstract: Acts of violence are not always easily distinguished in their form. Given the additional difficulties caused by the obscure nature of the archaeological record, it is no wonder that interpretations of these behaviors are so skewed both between and within fields of research. There is little consistency in this academic dialogue, which prevents researchers from grappling with the larger perspectives that should be approached. For instance, just how far back in our human history have events such as genocide occurred? Are these modern in origin? The scale of ancient events and our anthropological scopes need more adjustment to the unique conditions of the archaeological context if we seek to gain the deep-time perspective. In this dissertation, I am opening that dialogue between the fields of anthropology by comparing modern cases of violence to some events in the distant past by using Mound 72, Cahokia as the case study. Ultimately, I conclude that our current definitions of populations that are protected by international laws do not reflect current anthropological thinking, across all fields, about the flexibility in notions of population identity and identification. The rigid interpretations that have been employed to date in these laws are too restrictive and do little to enhance the protection for many targeted populations.