Calibrating and reassessing American Bottom culture history

Andrew C. Fortier, Thomas E Emerson, Dale L. McElrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The FAI-270 Project represents one of the most extensive Cultural Resource Management (CRM) undertakings in North America, resulting in the publication of dozens of site reports and, in 1984, a benchmark synthetic volume that presented a new chronology and culture history of the American Bottom region of the Mississipppi River (Bareis and Porter, eds. 1984). This sequence was based on material assemblages and radiocarbon dates from extensive excavations. The ongoing FAI-270 Project continues to invigorate local and regional research, transforming the American Bottom sequence into one of the most detailed Eastern Woodlands chronologies available. Since the Bareis and Porter (eds. 1984) volume, the quantity of archaeological data and available published reports have increased exponentially, with ten new phases identified. Our understanding of both diachronic and synchronic cultural relationships have undergone major transformations. In general we find that the earlier neoevolutionary model no longer "explains" the archaeological evidence. This article presents a newly revised calibrated sequence using some 300 radiocarbon dates from over 100 sites and examines significant changes in the chronological sequence. We present a new perspective on American Bottom cultural historical development that stresses cultural discontinuities, historical contingencies, local abandonment, population movement, and social and political continuities and disruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-211
Number of pages42
JournalSoutheastern Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology


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