The_Sociality_of_Surplus_among_Late_Arch

The_Sociality_of_Surplus_among_Late_Arch - 244 JAMES A...

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Unformatted text preview: 244 JAMES A. BROW/N AND JOHN E. KELLY Service, Elman R. 1975. Origins of the State and Civilization: The Process of Cultural Evolution. New York: W W Norton. Sewell, William H., Jr. 2.005. Yhe Logics ofI-Iistory: Social Yheory and Social Transformation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.7zo 8/ Chicago/9780226749198.001.0001. Smith, Bruce D. 1989. “The Origins of Agriculture in Eastern North America.” Science 2.46 (4937): 1566—71.http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.z46.4937.1566. Stanish, Charles. 2004.. “The Evolution of Chiefdoms: An Economic Anthropological Model.” In Archaeological Perspectives on Political Economies, ed. Gary M. Feinman and Linda M. Nicholas, 7—24.. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Swanton,John R. 1928. “The Interpretation of Aboriginal Mounds by Means of Creek Indian Customs.” Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 192 7: 4.9 5—506. Trubitt, Mary Beth. 7.000. “Mound Building and Prestige Goods Exchange: Changing Strategies in the Cahokia Chiefdom.” American Antiquity 65 (4.): 669 —90. http:// dx.doi.org/10.2307/2694.4z1. Trubitt, Mary Beth. 2005. “Crafting Marine Shell Prestige Goods at Cahokia.” North American Archaeologist 26 (3): 249—66. http://dx.doi.org/10.219o/4NRz—8C4H -AWXB—JVPE. Welch, Paul. Lo 06. “Interpreting Anomalous Rural Mississippian Settlements: Leadership from Below.” In Leadership and Polity in Mississippian Society, ed. Brian M. Butler and Paul D. Welch, 214—35. CAI Occasional Paper 33. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University. Wolf, Eric R. 1977. “Encounter with Norbert Elias.” In Human figurations: Essays fir Norbert Elias, ed. Peter Reinhart Gleichmann, Johan Goudsblom, Hermann Korte, and Norbert Elias, 28—35. Amsterdam: Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift. Wolf, Eric R. 19 87.. Europe and the People withoutI-[istory Berkeley: University of California Press. Wolf, Eric R. 1990. “Distinguished Lecture: Facing Power—Old Insights, New Questions.” American Anthropologist 92. (3): 586—96. http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/ aa.1990.92.3.02a00020. Wolf, Eric R. 1999. EnvisioningPower: Ideologies ofDominance ad Crisis. Berkeley: University of California Press. CHAPTER TEN The Sociality of Surplus among Late Archaic Hunter-Gatherers of Coastal Georgia VICTOR D. THOMPSON AND CHRISTOPHER R. MOORE The production and control of surplus is a recurring subject in archaeological studies ofhunter—gatherers and similar small-scale societies (Arnold 1996a, 1996b, 1996c; Hayden 1995, 1996; Saitta and Keene 1990). Some of the key themes related to the study of surplus include production or availability of surpluses as a catalyst for various behaviors and social relations, such as shifts toward sedentary communities, the development of social inequalities, feasting, risk aversion, and general overall societal “complexity” (Arnold 1996a; Brown and Price 1985; Kelly 1995; Sassaman 2004a, 2004b). Among these various issues, surplus production as a component offeasting receives wide attention from hunter—gatherer scholars. While Dietler and Hayden (2001; Hayden 2001) explore the many types offeasts the majority of archaeological studies focus on diacritical feasts or economic feasts, usually associated with some sort ofgain or status display (see Potter 2000 for an exception). In the American Southeast, studies of Archaic period feasting focus on feast— ing as a means of acquiring prestige (Brown and Kelly, this volume). Research on hunter—gatherer shell ring sites along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts factor heavily in arguments related to both the identification of feasting and its role in status dif— ferentiation (Russo 2004.; Saunders 2004a, 2004b). Shell rings are circular, arcuate, or U—shapcd shell deposits, with smaller rings measuring around 50 m in diameter and larger ones exceeding 300 m (Russo and Heide 2001). This chapter takes an alternative approach, arguing that feasts (or communal meals) at shell ring sites a DOI:10.5876/9781607323808.c010 24s 24.6 VICTOR D. THOMPSON AND CHRISTOPHER R. MOORE were ritualized components of the subsistence cycle that invoked group solidarity without emphasizing the prestige or status of any one group or individual. In this chapter, we explore feasting, surplus production, and daily life during the Late Archaic period along the Georgia coast. We first develop an agent—centered typology of hunter—gatherer surpluses. Next, we review the current literature on shell ring sites in the American Southeast and argue that at least one of these sites, the Sapelo Island Shell Ring complex (9MC23). was occupied year‘round by a resi- dent population of hunter-gatherers. Finally, we use Thompson’s work at the Sapelo Island Shell Ring complex to explore the relationship among surplus, feasting, and ritual in the lives ofthe site’s Late Archaic inhabitants. In doing so, we argue that the abundant and predictable resources ofSapelo Sound and the Late Archaic fishing and transportation technologies that allowed resident hunter-gatherers to exploit them provided a material buffer against risk whose unintended consequence was the development of social and economic interdependencies in both subsistence and ritual activities. In doing this, we emphasize that not only do small—scale societies produce surpluses but that surplus production was likely integral to social struc— turing among such groups. Further, we argue that the shifting environmental and social contexts of production can have transformative effects on social relationships (see Earle, this volume; Morehart and De Lucia, this volume). HUNTER—GATHERER SURPLUSES AND THE STRUCTURE OF THE ENVIRONMENT Anthropological perspectives on hunter—gatherers illuminate the relationship between these groups and the productivity of the environment. Sahlins’s (1972) concept of the “Original Affluent Society” has been highly influential in develop— ing the perspective that hunter—gatherers view the environment as provisioning all of their needs because such groups have limited wants. Despite criticisms of this perspective, Bird—David (1990, 1992) argues that some immediate—return hunter— gatherers like the Nayaka of South India perceive the environment as a parent and rich in abundance. Egalitarian groups like the Nayaka, who perceive the environ— ment as giving, base their own relations of production on giving. Of course, this does not mean these groups are not aware of risk, uncertainty, and shortfalls, only that, during normal years, it is anticipated that the environment will provide all the necessary resources for daily life. Thus, the economies of such groups are based on a premise of abundance (i.e., surplus) rather than scarcity (Bird—David I990, 1992), a notion that provides the rationale for the immediate consumption of resources. By way of contrast, more “complex” hunter—gatherers (as well as “simple” hor— ticultural societies) exhibit relations of production structured by prolonged THE SOCIALITY OF SURPLUS AMONG LATE ARCHAIC HUNTER-GATHERERS engagements among actors that create interdependencies at the household and inter—household levels. These kinds of socio the nature of sharing from a voluntary, generalized risk—reduction practice rooted in a desire to create familial bonds among groups of neighbors (e.g., Bird—David 1990) to an obligatory system in which participation in labor duties and givin of resources (e.g., food) is expected within the group (e.g., Ames I991; Browf and Price 1985; Habu 2004; Lourandos 1997; Rick et al. 2005; Sassaman 2004a- Thompson and Worth 2011). ’ To better characterize the role economic relationships transform I ‘ played by economic surplus in structuring this variability in hunter-gatherer relations of production, we take into account the scale, timing, and temporality of potential surplus production events. To do this we contrast the general notion of the surplus potential of a given landscape with, place- and time—specific surplus production events. To better illustrate how vari— ability in surplus opportunities can constrain production options, we differentiate these events into opportunistic and anticipated events, each ofwhich has distinct temporal and spatial dimensions and long—term surplus potentials. OPPORTUNISTIC SURPLUS The primary characteristic of opportunistic surplus events is a certain degree of ran— domness with respect to their timing and location. This idea can be conceptualized in several difl'erent ways. For example, groups may aggregate to take advantage of short-term “encountered” natural surpluses, like the beachingofwhales or dolphins on the shore in coastal environments. However, such aggregations related activities that occur as a result) are unpredictable, timing of the next beached whale cannot be known. Furthermore, the time from surplus occurrence to group coalescence is relativel}r short, leaving little time for groups to organize attendant customs and traditions that may create long-term stable economic interdependencies among individuals and groups. Therefore the, performance of such attendant traditions (cg, ceremonies) would be constrained by the time—space nature of opportunistic surpluses. Johnson and Earle (1987:60—61; see also Vayda 1967; chgoyan 1971) discuss two examples among Australian groups and the Porno of Northern California that could be defined as opportunistic surplus events. In both took advantage of “abundant yields of unpredictable wild resources," and when one group encountered such surpluses, others would be invited to “join in" cer- emonies and “join in harvesting the bountiful re-sources’1 (johnson and Earle 1987:60). While one might imagine that such events might be opportunities for groups or individuals to aggrandize, the short-term and unpredictable nature of (and the surplus— since the location and examples, groups 247 VICTOR D, THOMPSON AND CHRISTOPHER R. MOORE these events suppresses any short—lived inequalities that might emerge. Specifically, while ad hoc feasting events like funerals are often avenues for prestige (Hayden 2009), the environmentally structured unpredictable nature of where and when such surpluses might occur serves to negate the short gains in social and symbolic capital. While opportunistic surpluses may result in higher frequencies of socio- egalitarian practices, these newly formed relations of production quickly dissolve as the surplus is consumed. In some situations, opportunistic surpluses are predictable with regard to their timing but unpredictable with regard to the location of their occurrence. For instance, bison migrations and floods that Facilitate the growth of economically important plants in floodplains may occur regularly enough to predicr their timing (e.g., every spring) but vary in terms oftheir intensity or location. Opportunisric surpluses created by bison migrations can be transformed into predictable sur- plus production events through shifts in hunting practices and labor investment in facilities like drive lanes. In the floodplain plant example, action can be taken to encourage the growth of plants at specific places on the landscape (see Smith 2001), thus reducing unpredictability ofyields in time and space. In some cases, a pattern may develop in which surpluses occur during roughly the same time and place; however, unless these management practices are sustained over many years, any changes in social relations will be inherently unstable. Such instability is a pre- dictable outcome of our model, and it explains much ofrhe temporal and spatial variability in such practices observed in the historical and archaeological records of hunter—gatherer groups. ANTICIPATED SURPLUS In contrast to opportunistic surpluses, anticipated surpluses are structured in both time and space. They are characterized by highly regular fluctuations in the envi— ronment (e.g., seasonal change) and occur at predictable locations year after year. Groups can use the predictability of such events to plan attendant traditions and ceremonies that would normally be constrained by the variable nature of oppor— tunistic surpluses. As a result, these ceremonies have the potential to attract larger numbers of participants and to become more elaborate with a greater investment of labor, eventually resulting in economic intensification (Spielmann 2.002). One of the conceivable outcomes of a focus on anticipated surpluses is a greater commitment to the use of particular places. In some cases, this may lead to the develo ment of sedentar communities, althou h ex loitation of antici ated sur- y g P P pluses alone is not a sufficient condition for sedentism. In all cases, however, We expect such groups to develop an attachment to these places, potentially marking THE SOCIALITY OF SURPLUS AMONG LATE ARCHAIC HUNTER»GATHERERS 249 them for future use. This could be unintentional, as in cases where trash accumula— tions form a visible structure on the landscape (e.g., shell middens; see Thompson 2010; Thompson and Andrus 2.011), or intentional, as in the case ofearthen mounds, temples and other ritual houses, or facilities to enhance the collection of a par— ticular resource (e.g., the eeling weirs of southwestern Victoria; see Lourandos 1997:64—65). The various hunter-gatherer groups of the northwest coast of North America can a prime example of hunter-gatherers living in a resource—rich area, and the seasonal salmon runs exploited by these groups fit well with what we term antici- pated surpluses. Along the Pacific Northwest, seasonal migrations by salmon and other anadromous fish provided relatively stable and predictable resources. Because of this, these fish could be exploited in bulk through the construction of nets and weirs, thus creating regularly anticipated surplus production events. Once cap— tured, the fish could be smoked or their oils extracted and stored for future use. Nevertheless. variations in the timing and spacing of surplus production events provided difl‘trenr individuals and groups with different contexts within which to develop new relations of production (Ames 1994). It is likely for this reason that the region was marked by considerable variability in social and political complexity (cf. Kelly 1991). Only in certain instances, where the sustained interactions of indi— viduals in the conteXt of anticipated surpluses had relaxed the influence of leveling mechanisms and egalitarian social relations, could aggrandizers justify the transfor— mation of existing socio—egalitarian relations of production into vertical hierarchies (e.g., Ames 1981, 1985). Nevertheless, certain egalitarian practices, like the use of communal hearths by households, remained prevalent among these groups, even if they served primarily to mask the contradictions inherent in such a system of rank— ing (Coupland, Clark, and Palmer 2009). This discussion of opportunistic and anticipated surpluses illustrates the way different surplus production events provide individuals and groups with dififerent contexts for action. We emphasize, however, that these events do not determine relations of production among hunter—gatherers. Rather, they act as structuring conditions that may predispose individuals to certain kinds of interactions while providing others (i.e., aggrandizers) with the means to obtain prestige. While opportunistic surpluses are unlikely to lead to the long—term expression of social inequalities, anticipated surpluses provide individuals and groups with the oppor— tunity to develop sustained economic interdependencies that may engender the institutionalization of lasting inequalities as a result of such interactions. Whether they will do so, however, depends on the specific historical contexts within which those anticipated surpluses are realized. Here we discuss the role of anticipated sur- pluses in structuring the lives of hunter-gatherers of the coastal Southeast. 250 VICTOR D. THOMPSON AND CHRISTOPHER R. MOORE * .NH L——-\ \ South t'farnlilm __. Sewec ____-_:.’_-Lighlhouse Pomi Fi ’ Islmldinlnkcl — —-For(|ERIngR _ __Si. (Taiherines and McQueen :- — A Busch Knob: Sanclo H'" Cannon‘s Point at Oxeyc/Rolins Alabama Georgia Mississippi I. Cedarland/ Claiborne - L’“ L, I Eglin Elliott's Point Il Buck Bayou "" Guano Meig’s Pastich . . Honda %( i, Joseph Reed Ilorr’s island k ks FIGURE 10.1. Location of selected shell ring sites in the American Southeast. SHELL RINGS OF THE AMERICAN SOUTHEAST Most shell ring sites in the American Southeast date to the Late Archaic period (ca. 5000 to 3000 BP) (Saunders and Russo 2011). Russo (2006:8) provides the best description of these sites as “circular t0 horse—shoe—shaped piles of shell (primarily oyster) ranging in size from so to up to 2.50 meters across and located along the coasts of South Carolina. Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi” (figure 10.1). While some of the shell deposits can reach great heights (e.g., > 4 m), the vast majority of the shell rings exhibit much less topographic relief, with most not exceeding more than a m at their highesr point (ibid.:table a). As the name implies, shell is ubiquitous at these sites; however, the shell matrix contains a host of other faunal materials, often providing evidence of use of the coastal estuaries and terrestrial fauna, as well as bone. shell, and ceramic artifacts (DePratter 1979; Russo 2.004.; Sanger 2.010; Saunders 1004a. 1004b; Saunders and Russo 2.011; Thompson 2007, 2010; Trinkley 19 35). Many shell ring sites, espe— cially those along the Atlantic Coast, are associated with some of the first pottery— producing peoples in the region. In faCt, Sassaman (10044139) proposes that the central to southern Georgia coast is the point of origin of pottery production. While the earliest accepted radiocarbon dates for the earliest pottery occur around 185 km inland, some dates along the coast rival those found inland along the Savannah River. Many ofthe dates are in excess of 4.000 BP (Marrinan 1975, 7.010; Sanger and Thomas 7.010; Sassaman 2004a; Thompson 7.007; Thompson, Stoner, and Rowe 7.008; sec Thompson and Worth 2011 for a discussion). TI-IE SOCIALITY OP SURPLUS AMONG LATE ARCI—IAIC HUNTERrGATHERERS Researchers propose models regarding shell ring formation and funcrion. Sonic view them as intentional monuments constructed by aggregate groups ofhuntcr- gatherers during feasts (Saunders 100.421, 2.004 b). Others view them as egalitarian villages (DePratter 1979; Trinkley 1985). Alternatively. some propose that such sites could represent a combination of actions (Russo 2.004.; Thompson and Andrus at least some aspects ofdaily life occurred at these sites (cg, DePratter 19 79; Russo 1998, 2004.; Thompson 2.007; Thompson and Andrus 2.011; Trinldey 1985). In this chapter we take the perspective that shell ring sites served, at least in part, as habitation sites. While some continue to argue that shell rings are ceremonial aggregation sites, current evidence suggests that at least some people occupied these sites throughout the year (Colaninno—Meeks 1010; Russo 1998: Thompson and Andrus 2011). Ofcourse, the fact that shell rings functioned as habitation sites does not preclude that ceremonial gatherings and feasts also could have occurred (Russo 2.004.: Thompson 2.007). While we agree with Russo that feasts likely occurred at these sites. we disagree about the specific nature of this feasting. Russo (2.004) argues that competitive feasting occurred among the trans—egalitarian groups that occupied the shell rings. The large quantity of shellfish and deer remains found provrdes his evidence for feasring, while the position of higher piles of shell in relation to one another and to openings in the rings indicates some form of social diflerentiation. Unfortunately. Russo's (ibid.) argument is based primarily on topo- graphic data that do not account for internal variability in the shell ring deposits or post-depositional erosion. The only independent test of Russo’s (ibid.) model is Colaninno-Meeks’s (...
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