Biological and cultural stress in a South Appalachian Mississippian settlement: Town Creek Indian Mound, Mt. Gilead, NC

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Title: Biological and cultural stress in a South Appalachian Mississippian settlement: Town Creek Indian Mound, Mt. Gilead, NC
Author: Cunningham, Sarah L.
Advisors: Dr. Scott Fitzpatrick, Committee Chair
Dr. Ann H. Ross, Committee Member
Dr. D. Troy Case, Committee Member
Abstract: Town Creek Indian Mound was an important ceremonial center of the Pee Dee culture for approximately 200 years (A.D. 1150 - 1400) before it was abandoned. Biological indicators, such as the prevalence of diseases like cribra orbitalia, and decreases in stature attainment from previous generations will be presented. Often site abandonment will also be preceded by increases in cultural stress, such as trauma, as the population reacts to worsening conditions. These three indicators are used to determine if the Pee Dee population living at Town Creek was, in fact, experiencing biological or cultural stress at the end of their habitation of the site. Comparisons were made between an early habitation phase (Teal/Early Town Creek period) and a late phase (Late Town Creek/Leak period). MANOVA statistical analysis found that, of the long bone length measurements, only the female humerus was found to be variable between time phases, with the bone becoming longer in the late phase. Neither cribra nor trauma increased significantly in the late phase. Drought reconstructions have shown that, while the area has experienced extended periods of mild drought and even one intense drought, these periods corresponded with increased site activity, including the construction of monumental architecture. All skeletal indicators and contextual climate reconstructions point to a stable environment and associated population. Issues with nutrition or violence within the culture did not precede the Pee Dee's abandonment of Town Creek, so the cause must lie with other unknown factors.
Date: 2010-05-03
Degree: MA
Discipline: Anthropology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/6271


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