New England Algonquians: Navigating “Backwaters” and Typological Boundaries

Elizabeth S. Chilton

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195380118
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

New England Algonquians: Navigating “Backwaters” and Typological Boundaries

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  • Archaeology of North America



This article argues that New England Algonquians offer us an important historical example of great social and ecological stability—as well as social complexity—over more than 10 millennia. The archaeological record in New England allows us to question causal relationships among subsistence, sedentism, and social complexity, and to explore alternative pathways in human history. In this sense, the article challenges directional models of cultural evolution and, instead, argues for the importance of historical contingency in human adaptation. It first reviews the archaeological evidence for the Paleo-Indian and Archaic periods as a backdrop for a full discussion of New England's mobile farmers.

Keywords: New England Algonquians; ecological stability; social complexity; subsistence; sedentism; cultural evolution

Article.  3973 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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