Relative and absolutechronometric dating techniques

Naturally, a report of work conducted 70 years ago cannot possibly satisfy all modern research needs.The Peabody investigators emphasized the recovery of artifacts and skeletal remains, and whereas they conducted stratigraphic mapping and feature excavation, a lack of independent dating prevented a detailed reconstruction of site formation, occupational sequence, and community patterning.

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At over 5000 m2 in extent and as much as 3 m thick, the midden deposits that constitute the core of Stallings Island would require extensive digging to ensure adequate sampling.

In lieu of new excavations, I proposed that the 1929 excavations of the Peabody be reopened to expose one of the profiles that bisected the midden.

These latter communities have histories of coastal settlement dating from about 4600 rcybp, but they began to make seasonal use of middle Savannah riverine sites after about 4000 rcybp.

The hypothesis that arises from these new data is that the emergence of classic Stallings Culture in the middle Savannah at about 3800 rcybp was a sociopolitical consequence of interactions between ethnically distinct Mill Branch and early Stallings communities.

As stratigraphic work at Stallings Island demonstrated 70 years ago, classic Stallings Culture was preceded by a preceramic culture known today as the Mill Branch phase of the Late Archaic period (Elliott et al. Dating from about 4200-3800 rcybp, the Mill Branch phase represents much more than a local ancestor or predecessor to Stallings Culture.

A growing body of evidence suggests strongly that groups of Mill Branch affinity, with ancestry in the middle Savannah region extending back at least five centuries, coexisted with early Stallings communities for upwards of 200 years.As the regional chronology for Stallings genesis developed from investigations elsewhere, the type site, Stallings Island, had little to offer.Three radiocarbon dates obtained from samples collected by Bruce Greene (Williams 191) generally agree with the rough details of regional chronology, but they were hardly sufficient to situate the various components of this complex site in the emerging details of Stallings chronology.Stallings Island (9CB1) is a National Landmark site in the middle Savannah River valley of Georgia that has been the subject of repeated archaeological investigations since the 1850s (Figure 1).As the namesake for the oldest pottery in North America, Stallings Island has figured prominently in the development of knowledge about increasing settlement permanence and social complexity in the prehistoric Southeast.Nothing in the 1931 report suggests that the Cosgroves crew dug into basal clays in this part of the site, so we were skeptical that this feature related to their activity.

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