Hidden in the matrix: using compositional analyses to examine social boundaries at the Chickasawhay Creek sites

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University of Alabama Libraries

This research uses compositional analyses to explore eighteenth-century Choctaw social interactions. In this thesis, ceramic artifacts from the Chickasawhay Creek sites (22KE630 and 22KE718) were analyzed using x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and ceramic petrography. Together, the chemical and petrographic datasets generated from these methods reflect the technical decisions made by the Choctaw ancestors. Using a practice-based approach, I redefine existing chronologies, assess systems of exchange, and highlight social interactions among the Choctaw that speak directly to identity formation. In addition, I incorporate a blend of experimental and indigenous archaeology into this study to develop more holistic interpretations. Based on the results of this study, I argue that variation in ceramic production at the Chickasawhay Creek sites is a reflection of social boundaries. The heterogeneous composition of ceramics found at 22KE718 is a testament to the diversity expected within a coalescent society. In contrast, the presence of French colonists at 22KE630 appears to mask these lines, suggesting that in the presence of foreigners, intra-group boundaries are not as visible. Ultimately, the results of this study help to elucidate the processes behind coalescence.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Archaeology, Native American studies, Chemistry