Progress report on reanalysis of the Hawley-Bell collection: Tree-ring chronology building and 14C dating at the religious and political centers of pre-contact eastern North America

Category: Time:
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - 12:00 to 13:00
Room: URL: Speaker:
Nicholas V. Kessler
Post-Doctoral associate in LTRR and the Physics Department
Ramzi Touchan & Ann Lynch
Calendar Status:

During the twelfth century A.D. Indigenous societies across the Mississippi River Basin transformed: populations aggregated into towns around dramatic monumental constructions that represented the seat of polities, communities adopted foreign styles, and more centralized leadership roles emerged. While the general outline of Mississippian history is known, exactly how people came to abandon old cultural practices in favor of the Mississippian pattern is not understood, nor are the historical details of individual mound centers. To address these topics, researchers must reconstruct individual events among the confusing and sometimes overlapping sequences that characterize Mississippian archaeological sites. Our project, led by Gregory Hodgins and Ronald Towner (co-PIs) and Nicholas Kessler (post-doc researcher), seeks to determine the age of ancient monuments and villages in the Mississippian region through an analysis of wood archived in the Hawley-Bell collection. In this talk I discuss progress made in the last eight months with a focus on the Kincaid site. I provide an overview of Mississippian archaeology; discuss the progress and prospects of ring-width chronology development from Kincaid samples; outline preliminary results of wiggle-matching; discuss the major challenge of contamination in the collection; and highlight problems of reconciling legacy collections in contemporary analytical frameworks.