Ritual and Archaeological Visibility in the Far Northeast of North America

Brian S. Robinson

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Ritual and Archaeological Visibility in the Far Northeast of North America

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  • Archaeology of North America



The Far Northeast of North America, from Maine to Labrador, was occupied by hunter-gatherer societies into recent times. Ritual themes influenced the visibility of archaeological materials and spatial patterns, to the degree that major cultural traditions of the Early Holocene remained undetected until interrelated technological and ritual patterns were recognized. This article discusses regional expressions of Archaic period mortuary patterns from Labrador, Newfoundland, and the Maritime Peninsula. Elements of ritual practice and direct trade link the most distant parts of the ritual horizon across a straight-line distance of 1,800 km. Three ritual topics are addressed for the later Ceramic (or Woodland) period (3000–400 bp), drawing on Algonquian oral traditions and historical documents for sources of meaning. The three overlapping topics are: burial ritual, social aggregation and feasting; petroglyphs and shamanism; and hunting rituals and the treatment of animal bone.

Keywords: hunter-gatherers; rituals; mortuary patterns; trade; burial; social aggregation; feasting; petroglyphs; shamanism; hunting

Article.  9549 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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