Lifeways Through Time in the Upper Mississippi River Valley and Northeastern Plains

Guy Gibbon

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Lifeways Through Time in the Upper Mississippi River Valley and Northeastern Plains

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A principle of an emerging post-postmodern archaeology is that there is no given past-in-itself, but rather many pasts that come into being with different ways of seeing. To assume otherwise—that is, to assume that there is only one past to be seen—is to commit the epistemic fallacy of the Myth of the Given. As such, archaeologists are obligated to clarify and explicitly lay out their ways of seeing. This conception of the archaeological enterprise is more playful and exploratory, and more uncertain, than one based on naïve empiricism in which a received way of seeing is considered a given. Besides affording diverse perspectives on the past, varied ways of seeing generate models, if fruitful, lead to new research agendas and discovery of new patterning in the archaeological record. This article illustrates the approach by summarizing an ongoing study of changing lifeways in the Upper Mississippi River–Northeastern Plains region of north central North America. It is divided into four sections: tools for studying past lifeways, the study area, lifeways through time, and pattern in the past.

Keywords: post-postmodern archaeology; empiricism; lifeways; Upper Mississippi River; Northeastern Plains; central North America

Article.  4039 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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