Marginal Horticulturalists or Maize Agriculturalists? Archaeobotanical, Paleopathological, and Isotopic Evidence Relating to Langford Tradition Maize Consumption
Emerson, Thomas E
ABSTRACT Langford Tradition horticulture was long viewed as representing a marginalized form of Middle Mississippian agriculture resulting from an adaptation to the less fertile landscapes and marginal climatic conditions of northern Illinois. This adaptation was characterized as involving semi-sedentary maize horticulture combined with an intensive use of wild game and plants. Until recently direct evidence for reconstructing Langford diet and subsistence practices had been limited. In this first systematic study of the specific evidence of Langford maize consumption from archaeology, paleopathology archaeobotany, and isotopic studies we suggest that these people are best characterized as maize dependent agriculturalists.
If maize was universally available in the Midwest by at least A.D. 900 . . . why did the Oneota not practice agriculture with the same flourish as their nearby Middle Mississippian neighbors?-John R Hart (T990)
The correlation of agriculture,1 especially maize production, with increased sociopolitical complexity has a long history in studies of the evolution and development of New World native cultures (e.g., Griffin 1943, 1952; Hall 1980; Willey 1966). The observations of early European travelers amongst Southeastern US and Mesoamerican chiefly and state-level groups reinforced this perspective. We now know that the large-scale adoption of maize agriculture and consumption in eastern North America took place about A.D. 900 and appeared to slightly predate the Terminal Late Woodland-Mississippian cultural transition in much of the North American midcontinent (McElrath et al. 2000; Simon 2000).
The degree of correlation between sociopolitical complexity, population density, and agricultural production is far from certain (e.g., Brown 1982; Hart 1990). It might have been the adoption of maize agriculture that created the opportunity for the emergence of Mississippian complexity, or, conversely, the intensification and dominance of maize production might have been the product of that emergence. The relationship of these variables is even less apparent in the case of northern Mississippianized societies (i.e., Upper Mississippian and Oneota). It is possible that variations in midcontinental sociopolitical complexity may be related to the intensity of agricultural production. Consequently, the level of agricultural production and consumption is a significant factor in interpreting sociopolitical developments in the late prehistory of this region.
Identifying the agriculture practices of eleventh to fourteenth century midcontinental Mississippianized societies is not a simple process. Current Midwestern taxonomy recognizes a significant cultural divide in the region’s late prehistory: On one hand are the Mississippian cultures epitomized by their intimate connection to Cahokia; on the other, are the Upper Mississippian cultures represented by localized Mississippianized native groups (see Figure 1). This Upper Mississippian culture comprised two spatially distinct subdivisions, the Fort Ancient peoples of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana (Griffin 1943) and the Oneota people of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and points west (Emerson and Brown 1992:80-84; Henning 1998a). The Oneota “Tradition” has been further divided into many subunits generally based on geographical location (e.g. Henning 1998a, 1998b). In northern Illinois two local manifestations are known as the Fisher-Huber and the Langford “Traditions”. It is Langford Tradition horticultural/agricultural practices, specifically as contrasted with those of Cahokian and northern Mississippian people, that are the focus of our research. The relationship, interaction and subsistence practices of Langford people as compared to their Oneota neighbors to the north has been extensively covered by Jeske (various, most recently 2003) and will not be addressed here.
Cahokian and Oneota sociopolitical organization were widely divergent. Cahokian society represents the apex of cultural, social, and political complexity in the midcontinent (e.g., Emerson 1997a, 1997b, 2002; Fowler 1997; Milner 1990, 1998; Pauketat 1994, 1998, 2004). Its central political-administrative core contained nearly 200 platform and mortuary mounds, community plazas and monuments, and elite housing. It covered an area of more than 14.5 km^sup 2^ in the American Bottom floodplain near St. Louis. Fourteen contemporaneous mound centers were located within 25 km of the administrative core. Interspersed around and between these centers were thousands of scattered households of family farmers as well as the nodal households of minor elites, rural temples, and small mortuary sites. The local area controlled by Cahokia probably exceeded 9,300 km^sup 2^, and was the most densely occupied zone in the upper Mississippi River valley from the tenth to early fourteenth centuries. From the American Bottom sprang, either through migration or emulation, a series of twelfth century northern chiefly societies in the central Illinois River valley, the Apple River valley in northwestern Illinois, and, perhaps, even the Red Wing locality in Minnesota (Emerson 1991; also papers in Emerson and Eewis 1991 and Stoltman 1991). Ultimately these northern chiefdoms were more influential in the political, social, and economic history of the Upper Mississippi River valley’s native peoples than Cahokia itself (Emerson 1991, 1999a, 2002: Jeske 1999; Pauketat 2004).
The people of the Langford Tradition lived primarily in the upper Illinois River valley and its northeastern tributaries between the twelfth and early fourteenth centuries A.D. (Bird 1997; Emerson 1999a, 1999b; Emerson and Brown 1992; Jeske 1990, 2000). They were bordered on the south by Mississippian chiefdoms of the Spoon River and LaMoine River cultures (Conrad 1991). Emerson (1999a) has argued that the contentious relationship between these Central Illinois chiefdoms and the indigenous Late Woodland populations was one factor that encouraged the unique development of the settlement, mortuary, political, and material patterns that archaeologists recognize as the Langford Tradition. Jeske (1989, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2003; Hunter 2002) has noted the role that Langford adaptation to a specific niche in the Prairie Peninsula may have played in forming a cohesive cultural configuration. Langford agricultural technology appeared to depend on digging sticks and lacked any form of hoes (neither stone nor large mammal scapula hoes have been found, e.g., Jeske 1989). People lived in diverse villages and camps scattered along the floodplains, terraces, and bluffs of the northern rivers. It is possible that some of the large villages may have been seasonally occupied with the population splitting up into family groups and dispersing across the region in the winter (Jeske 1990), although both Jeske (2000:232) and Emerson (1999b, 1999c) believe that other large villages were occupied year around. Some of the major villages have associated accretional burial mounds. Overall, the archaeological evidence suggests a tribal level social and political organization although in some instances more integrated political consolidation (perhaps chieftaincies sensu Redmond 1998; Emerson 1999a) is indicated.
Models of Late Prehistoric Midwestern Agriculture
The perceived dichotomy between Cahokian and Langford agriculture stems directly from assumptions about the sociopolitical structure of the two groups. In large part, this traditional view was generated by an archaeological perspective that linked crop production potential and social complexity (a la White 1959; Brown 1982; Hart 1990), i.e., Upper Mississippian culture appeared less complex than Middle Mississippian, ergo, they must have had a less stable and efficient “horticultural” (as opposed to “agricultural”) system. Simply put, following this line of reasoning, different agricultural productivity and efficiency translate directly into different levels of social and political complexity. It is worthwhile to examine the evidence on which these assumptions were based.
Cahokia and the Northern Mississippian Subsistence
We are fortunate in knowing much about Cahokian farming (e.g., Johannessen 1984a, 1984b, 1993a, 1993b; Lopinot 1992, 1994; Rindos and Johannessen 1991). These studies have shown that Cahokians were principally maize farmers supplementing their corn production with squash and starchy and oily seeds. They often used stone hoes in their fields and may have possessed large communally worked fields as well as house gardens (Woods 1987). Isotopic studies support the archaeobotanical evidence of substantial maize consumption by American Bottom inhabitants (e.g., Buikstra and (vlilner 1991; Buikstra et al. 1994; Hedman et al. 2002). It seems established that dense populations of Cahokians were engaged in intensive crop production, and likely supplied some of the surplus crops to a centralized elite to supplement their diet and to support large communal celebrations (Ambrose et al. 2003; Pauketat 1998; Pauketat and Emerson 1991, 1997; Pauketat and Lopinot 1997). The archaeobotanical, paleopathological, isotopic, and archaeological evidence for the importance of Cahokian agriculture are further supported by the considerable focus of the local iconography on symbols suggestive of renewal and fertility (e.g., Emerson 1989; 1997a, 1997c).
Unfortunately our information on the agricultural pursuits of the contemporaneous Mississippian people who occupied the central Illinois River and the Apple River valleys is very limited. Subsistence research at the Orendorf village site in Fulton County (e.g., Emerson 1981, pers. comm. 2004; Paloumpis 1981, Speth 1981) recovered extensive evidence for the use of maize, squash, as well as for deer and elk, birds, and large fish. The Lundy site on the Apple River possessed a diverse faunal assemblage and extensive evidence of maize agriculture (Colburn 1989; Schroeder 1989). Subjectively, our impression is that northern Mississippian populations fully exploited a rich and varied environment in addition to the active production of maize.
Oneota and Langford Subsistence
Oneota horticultural practices are not so well known as that of their Cahokian neighbors. Part of the problem rests in research focused on establishing commonalities among Oneota groups, often at the expense of the recognition of local variation (Hart 1990). This focus on broad patterns stems from the historical situation in which Oneota subsistence was defined by reference to climatic factors and Mississippian subsistence practices in the southeast, especially at Cahokia. James B. Griffin forcefully summarized this perspective in a series of articles in the early 1960s (1960a, 1960b, 1961). He characterized Oneota as a form of “northern” Mississippian culture that subsequently devolved due to deteriorating climatic conditions. Partially as a result of his views and similar ones (e.g., Baerreis and Bryson 1965; Gibbon 1972; Stoltman and Baerreis 1983) Oneota subsistence has been seen as an adaptation of Mississippian agricultural practices to environmental conditions in marginal areas. Michalik (1982) proposed that this subsistence adaptation was accomplished by expanding and diversifying a Middle Mississippian economy through the utilization of a broader spectrum of plants and animals, decreasing dependence on maize agriculture, and developing a settlement system dependent on seasonal residential movements.
However, Brown (1982:110-112) has pointed out that the areas dominated by Upper Mississippian peoples included easily tilled soils capable of producing substantial harvests, and, consequently, were hardly marginal. He noted that historic aboriginal farmers in this same area were able to produce large maize surpluses when so required (e.g., the Sauk in Blair 1911:11:151). Building on Brown’s hypothesis, Hart (1990) further analyzed the importance of environmental factors in the intensification of maize production using a cross-cultural approach. His investigations demonstrated that population density levels and the nature of agricultural management were generally more important than climate in determining the intensity of agricultural production. Given such findings, Emerson and Brown observed “it is unlikely that the cultural differences between Middle and Upper Mississippians were the results of natural constraint on food productivity. One must look to the social organization of production as a source of difference” (1992:81).
To date only Gallagher’s studies of the Oneota societies in the La Crosse locality have suggested that some Oneota agricultural practices verged on being intensive (Gallagher and Arzigian 1994; also see Gibbon 1972 for the importance of “Oneota” maize). Oneota populations in that locality practiced the construction and maintenance of a system of ridged fields (Gallagher 1989; Gallagher et al. 1985). Gallagher and his colleagues suggested that Oneota populations were involved in a program of “intensification with diversification” that promoted a wide range of resource acquisitions. This tactic was in opposition to the more typical anthropological model of “intensification with specialization” that promoted one or two resources at the expense of others. Most researchers would class Cahokian subsistence practices in this latter category. From Gallagher’s perspective both Oneota and Cahokians probably would have been engaged in “intensive” resource pursuits but would have taken markedly different avenues to attain that goal.
To some degree, studies of Oneota subsistence also have been shaped by their perceived similarity to historic period tribal subsistence practices. The rich historic and ethnographic records for Prairie Peninsula groups have provided detailed documentation of maize horticulture, localized hunting and gathering, and communal hunting of large mammals, especially the bison (e.g., see Brown 1965). There is no doubt that the connection between some Oneota archaeological expressions and historic groups, especially the various Siouan speakers, has done much to push Oneota subsistence models towards these historic analogues (Henning 1998a:360-364). This perspective is reinforced by James Brown’s argument that the late prehistoric societies moving into the Prairie Peninsula rapidly assumed a common adaptation of “. . . mixed agriculture, local hunting and gathering, and communal hunting . . .” (Brown 1965:203).
What do we know (or think we know) about Langford peoples’ farming practices? While continuing research contributed additional details on Langford subsistence, it did not substantially alter the interpretation promoted by Griffin at least forty years ago. This perspective was reinforced by Faulkner’s determination that Langford was an adaptation to “localized environments within the prairie-deciduous forest biotic areas of the upper Mississippi valley through simple farming , and the exploitation of the diverse and abundant natural plant and animal foods” (Faulkner 1972:13). Archaeologists generally believed that the ecology of these northern marginal regions would have been most efficiently exploited by societies that utilized an equal mixture of horticulture, hunting, fishing, and gathering. Such a diversified subsistence base, featuring a diminished reliance on agricultural produce, was presumed to create settlement, social, and political patterns that were more flexible and less hierarchical than those of the Mississippian societies to the south. These perspectives have promoted continuing assumptions that Oneota agriculture, in general, was a “supplemental” rather than primary subsistence resource (e.g., Brown 1982; Jeske 1989, 1990, 1992).
Jeske (1989, 1990, 2000, 2003; Hunter 2002) has been one of the few researchers to perceive that there might have been a noteworthy difference between Langford farming practices and those portrayed as being “typical” of Oneota peoples. Using a selected sample of Fisher-Huber and Langford site locations from the Chicago area and the Rock River he observed that Langford sites were generally associated with dryer soils, the Fisher-Huber sites with wetter soils. He interprets this as reflecting the use of different agricultural technologies with the Langford peoples using a digging stick while the Fisher-Huber peoples employed scapula hoes. What these differing technologies implied as to differing farming and subsistence practices was not known. As Jeske noted, (1989:115) what was needed to address this issue was new data “. . . to determine the importance of maize in Upper Mississippian diets.”
At the same time researchers like Brown (1982) and Hart (1990) were concluding that there were no environmental reasons why maize agriculture should not have done well among northern “Oneota” groups. The older environmentally deterministic model that saw maize as unproductive in the zones occupied by Oneota people was proven to be incorrect. As Hart notes in the epigraph, the absence of evidence for intensive maize agriculture in the Oneota areas seemed inexplicable. At the time, researchers simply lacked the physical evidence to assess Langford agricultural potential or to measure the degree of maize dependence.
The Langford Tradition Sample
Langford Tradition sites were some of the earliest archaeological sites to be systematically explored in Illinois. Pioneer work by George Langford (Christensen 2003) at sites like Fisher mounds and village site salvaged hundreds of burials and some habitation materials in advance of quarrying operations in the first few decades of the twentieth century. In the following decades dozens of Langford village and mound sites were discovered and many tested (summarized in Emerson and Brown 1992:84-86). Such excavations were often salvage efforts done with minimal recordation or were performed at a time when subsistence was not a primary research concern. Even today few habitation site excavations have been fully reported (for exceptions see Craig and Galloy 1996; Emerson 1999c; Jeske 2000, 2002). Only two mortuary sites were excavated in a manner providing adequate contextual data to make them suitable for this project-Material Service Quarry (11LS50) (Bareis 1964-1965; Emerson and Hedman 1999) and Gentleman Farm (11LS27) (Brown et al. 1967, Willis 1941). Fortuitously these two sites are only a few kilometers apart, 11LS50 on a bluff top location and 11LS27 on the floodplain across the valley.
These two mortuary excavations were both salvaged under difficult circumstances. The Gentlemen Farm mound and village (11LS27) was located on the southern floodplain of the Illinois River 3.2 km to the east of Ottawa in LaSaIIe County. The 1.2+ ha site was scheduled to be destroyed by channel modifications of the Illinois River in the fall of 1940. WPA archaeologists were allowed four weeks to salvage what they could from the site. Crews were able to recover the remains of 48 individuals of the 200-300 bodies estimated to be in the single mound. Ceramics with the burials and from the village demonstrated that the site was associated with the Langford Tradition (Brown et al. 1967; Willis 1941).
The Material Service Quarry site (11LS50), with a single mound and village, was located on a northern bluff of the Illinois River about 4.8 miles to the east of Ottawa in LaSalle County. Charles Bareis, University of Illinois, began salvage excavations in December, 1964 in response to the active quarrying of the site. Previous and ongoing looting had heavily damaged the mound. Although information on the site is limited, estimates made at the time of its destruction suggest it contained a single mortuary mound about 60-90 cm in height and 21 m in diameter. Ultimately the remains of 35 individuals were recovered from intact and disturbed contexts. We estimate that at least 100+ burials must have been present in the original mound. An accompanying bluff top village was believed to be .4 to 2 ha in size. All of the artifacts recovered from the burials and village debris can be confidently associated with the Langford Tradition (Bareis 1964-1965; Emerson and Hedman 1999).
For the purposes of this research it was important to independently verify the contemporaneity of the mortuary samples to provide, to the greatest degree possible, chronological control beyond the phase level. Emerson (1999a:23-27), in a recent compilation of 46 calibrated Langford Tradition dates, showed that fully 70 percent of the assays’ midpoints fell in the thirteenth century A.D. and that nearly 80 percent of the dates fell in the period between A.D. 1100 and 1300. Ieske (2000: 266-268, 2003: 167-169), taking a slightly different perspective, prefers to place Langford between A.D. 1000-1400. As part of this research we obtained four assays on remains from the Gentleman Farm mound (11LS27) and four from the Material Service Quarry mound (11LS50) (TabIc 1). Two earlier assays from 11LS50 had been run under the auspices of Robert Hall (pers. comm. 1999). The midpoints of the six 11LS50 samples range from cal A.D. 1227 to 1280 with a mean of cal A.D. 1257. The one-sigma range is from cal A.D. 1162 to 1295. The midpoints of the four 11LS27 samples run from cal A.D. 1016 to 1256. The cal A.D. 1016 date is from a flexed premound burial lacking diagnostic items and may represent a terminal Late Woodland interment. If we disregard the outlying date the remaining three dates’ midpoints range from cal A.D. 1217 to 1256 with a mean of cal A.D. 1231. The one-sigma range of these three samples is between cal A.D. 1166 and cal A.D. 1282. Based on the range of dates one could presume that 11LS27 might have been occupied a generation or two earlier than 11LS50. The radiocarbon samples support the archaeological artifactual evidence and indicate that the sites represent thirteenth century populations and events from a tightly circumscribed locality during the highpoint of the Langford culture.
The archaeological evidence for Langford horticulture and subsistence comes from a wide geographical range of sites. Until recently, with the concern and focus on environmental and subsistence issues, Langford Tradition researchers had not systematically collected floral and faunal evidence. Even now adequately reported and analyzed information on plant use is only available from six sites: Keeshin Farm and Valhall sites on the Rock River (Simon 1999a,1999b), and Zimmerman (Egan 1987, 1993), Cooke (Parker 1985), Washington Irving (Egan 1985; Jeske 2000), and Reeves (Parker 1996) in the upper Illinois River valley. These sites form the basis for the archaeobotanical discussion in this investigation.
The Central and Lower Illinois River Valley Sample
Archaeological excavations of Mississippian archaeological sites has a long history in the central Illinois River valley (Conrad 1991) beginning with the well documented amateur excavations at Dickson Mounds (Harn 1980) that coincided with the initiation of the famous University of Chicago’s Fulton County field schools (see Cole and Deuel 1937). Dickson Mounds has long provided the “type” sample for researchers interested in the physical anthropology of Mississippian populations (e.g. Lallo 1972, 1973, various). The subsequent literature on the skeletal osteology, genetics, health, and diet of the Dickson Mound population is extensive (see Buikstra and Milner 1989). More recently skeletal research has also included Mississippian populations from the large Orendorf village and mounds that has served to broaden our perspective on Central Illinois late prehistoric peoples’ health and well being (Conrad 1991).
Mississippian and Late Woodland cemeteries in the lower Illinois valley have primarily been excavated by avocational archeologists, foremost has been the work of Gregory Perino at large cemetery sites like Schild (e.g., Perino 1971). The human remains from such excavations have been studied, primarily by Jane Buikstra’s students (e.g., Conner 1984; Droessler 1981; Konigsberg 1987), and provide an interesting comparative sample, located, as they are, midway between the Central Illinois River valley and American Bottom. Unfortunately, the archaeological excavation and analysis of Mississippian habitation and cemetery sites lags far behind adjacent areas so contextual and cultural content is poorly documented (Farnsworth et al. 1991).
The American Bottom Mississippian Sample
Our understanding of the physical anthropology and ethnobotany of the prehistoric Cahokians in the American Bottom has increased considerably in the past several decades. Beginning with the comprehensive synthesis by George Milner in 1982, scholarly investigations of Mississippian mortuary programs, health, and diet have steadily expanded our knowledge of Cahokia’s inhabitants. Mortuary ritual for both the people of the large mound centers and the outlying districts have been explored (e.g., Emerson and Hargrave 2000; Emerson et al. 2003; Fowler et al. 1999; Milner 1984). Studies of Cahokian health and diet are ongoing (e.g., Buikstra and Milner 1991, Buikstra et al. 1994; Hedman et al. 2002).
The comparative sample for this study comes specifically from a series of late Mississippian mortuary features from the Florence Street, and East St. Louis Stone Quarry cemetery sites and Corbin and Kane Mounds (see summaries in Emerson and Hargrave 2000, and Hedman et al. 2002). A series of 18 calibrated radiocarbon dates from mortuary contexts range from midpoints of cal A.D. 1253 to 1295 (with a single earlier outlier of cal A.D. 1162). The one-sigma range of the 17 acceptable dates are between cal A.D. 1192 and 1392 while the mean is cal A.D. 1280 (Emerson and Hargrave 2000: Table 1). Thus these samples are generally contemporaneous with the thirteenth century Eangford mortuary samples used in this study.
The initial evidence for American Bottom Mississippian agricultural activities was analyzed by Sissel Johannessen as part of the FAI-270 Archaeological Mitigation Project (Johannessen 1984a, 1984b; Rindos and Johannessen 1991) and has subsequently been confirmed and refined by archaeobotanical analysis from dozens of sites. Neal Lopinot (1991,1992, 1994, 1997), Sissel Johannessen (1993a, 1993b), and Mary Simon (2002) have prepared additional summaries of new evidence. The chronological depth of the archaeobotanical samples from the American Bottom Mississippian sites is much greater than that available from the Langford sites and covers the period from A.D. 1050-1350. The sample used in this research concentrates on sites from the Stirling and Moorehead phases, dating from the twelfth to the thirteenth centuries.
Archaeobotanical remains recovered from open-air sites constitute one of the primary data sources used for assessing dietary variability among and between populations. Assuming this direct correspondence, a comparison of plant assemblages from Langford Tradition, American Bottom and northern Mississippian sites (Figure 1, Table 2) comprises one set of variables that is useful for assessing the relative contributions of plant resources, including cultivated crop plants, to human diet. Using simple statistics, calculated from information that has been collected, processed, and analyzed according to consistent and standardized procedures, we can determine the relative contributions of individual plant taxa to the assemblage and, by extension, to the group producing the assemblage. This is of course only possible when the data sets are large enough to compensate for intersite variability. While we have had an extensive Mississippian database from the American Bottom for some time (e.g., Johannessen 1984a, 1988, 1993a; Lopinot 1991, 1992; Parker 1992, 1994, 1995), our data base for the Langford Tradition has only recently become sufficiently large to permit objective, quantitative comparison (e.g., EganBruhy 2000; Jeske 2000; Parker 1996; Simon 1998, 1999b).
In our analysis we assess maize use, not in terms of absolute quantities, but in terms of its relative contribution to the archaeobotanical assemblage. To this end, we consider the contributions of three classes of potential plant foods: nuts, represented by nutshells, which are actually the nonedible by-products of consumption; corn, which can be present either as a direct residue (kernels) or byproduct (cobs); and indigenous starchy cultigens which are recovered as the actual food part. The latter consists of maygrass (Phalaris caroliniana), chenopod (Chenopodium berlandieri), little barley (Hordeum pusillum), and erect knotweed (Polygonum erectum). This group of plants has a long history of study and much documentation for use in the Midwest. For discussions and summaries of individual taxa, see, for example, N. Asch and D. Asch 1978; D. Asch and N. Asch 1985; Cowan 1978; Green 1994; Heiser 1979, 1985; Smith 1992; Yarnell 1978, as well as the many references contained therein.
Because plant manipulation occurs along a continuum (sensu Rindos 1984; see also Ford 1985; Fritz 1990; Smith 1992), dichotomizing plant remains to reflect the opposing strategies of wild plant collection and intentional plant husbandry, is overly simplistic. Even for a single species, human management can vary both through time and across space from purposeful, focused cultivation to a more casual policy of noninterference. It is clear that throughout prehistory (and beyond), wild plant resources have played an important role in human diet. It is also clear that these plants, too, may have been manipulated. Assessing the relative contributions of cultivated versus collected plants to the diet of prehistoric residents of Illinois must be undertaken with this caveat in mind.
The implementation of standardized retrieval and analytical practices permit quantitative, as well as qualitative, comparative studies of plant residues (see chapters in Hastorf and Popper 1988). Our comparisons are based on the counts of individual plant classes obtained from feature fill samples processed using some variation of water flotation (Pearsall 1989; Wagner 1976). Only materials derived from secondary fill contexts were used, and masses of any individual species or genus exceeding 1,000 items were excluded from calculations. Raw data used for calculations included only nutshell fragments, corn kernel pieces, and corn cupule fragments that are larger that 2 mm in size. seeds may be from any size class. In this study, our focus is on members of the starchy grain class. Wild-type chenopodium is included in these counts because we are concerned with food products and archaeobotanists working in northern Illinois have interpreted these residues as such (e.g., Asch and Sidell 1990; Egan 1985; Egan-Bruhy 2000; Redmer 1989). The oily-seeded cultigens, traditionally recovered in very low numbers, do not contribute significantly to the entire cultivated seed count and are excluded from our analyses.
Comparative studies incorporate assemblage data from 25 sites: 7 Langford Tradition occupations from northeastern Illinois, 7 Mississippian sites in western or northwestern Illinois, and 11 Mississippian sites from the American Bottom in Illinois (Figure 1, Table 2). Although obviously not numerically equivalent, these regional data sets are sufficiently large that they can be combined to provide at least a preliminary overview of regional plant use patterns. In each case, a variety of site types and sample sizes are represented, which also helps to minimize skewing effects of aberrant data sets.
For comparative purposes, data from each set of sites is combined, and means for each region are calculated. The primary comparative statistics employed are mean density (count per liter), mean ubiquity (percent occurrence in individual features at a site), and relative proportions of the study assemblage. Where applicable, the Student’s t-Test is employed to assess differences of means. For these tests, data are un-pooled. Although less rigorous than the pooled statistic (which assumes equal sample sizes and variances), the un-pooled option is used because the sample sizes are obviously quite different and equal variance in this case cannot be assumed (Blalock 1979; Drennan 1996; Ghent pers. comm. 1996).
Inconsistencies in data reporting occasionally make statistical comparisons impossible, but when they can be calculated, indices for three subsistence classes-corn, seeds, and nutshell-reflect both similarities and differences among regions. Taken in conjunction with other, independently derived, lines of evidence, plant remains become an even more effective and relevant data set for assessing subsistence regimes.
Plant Use Patterns
On a pan-regional level, both Upper Mississippian and Mississippian groups were characterized by dependence on corn cultivation. Studies of archaeobotanical assemblages from Mississippian sites are particularly prolific for the American Bottom of southwestern Illinois and for western Illinois in or near the Illinois and Mississippi River valleys (Figure 1; Table 2). These studies have produced extensive data sets that reflect a strong reliance on cultivation of both indigenous and introduced crops as well as continued use of wild plant resources. In fact, the overriding abundance and ubiquity of corn at sites in the American Bottom has traditionally been interpreted as representing such a strong reliance on this plant that it seems to form the benchmark against which use levels elsewhere in the central Midwest, particularly Illinois, are evaluated (N. Asch and D. Asch 1985; Johannessen 1984a, 1993b; Lopinot 1992, 1994; Parker 1992, 1995; Parker and Simon 1994).
Although our data set for the Langford Tradition is less robust, it likewise reflects a subsistence economy that focused on corn cultivation. However, Langford peoples did not cultivate the indigenous starchy grain crops to anywhere near the same extent as did their Mississippian neighbors. Rather, collected resources, such as nuts, fleshy fruits, wild rice and (presumably) tubers were more important (Egan-Bruhy 2000; Jeske 1990, 2000; Parker 1996; Simon 2000).
On a site-by-site basis, the contributions of corn to plant assemblages from Mississippian sites in Illinois are, as would be expected, variable (Table 2). However, when data are combined by region, average densities (count per liter) and feature ubiquities are surprisingly similar (1 able 3). A series of t-tests comparing mean densities and mean feature ubiquities of corn show no significant differences between populations at the .05, or even the .20, levels (Table 4). The biggest difference is between the mean Langford and American Bottom densities, and may in part be a function of differences in occupational intensity at the individual sites. Even here, however, the hypothesis of no difference cannot be rejected.
In contrast, the contributions of starchy grains are strikingly different between regions. Even excluding seed masses, Mississippian sites in the American Bottom regularly produce starchy grains from the majority of features excavated, in counts from a single individual up to the hundreds, and clearly dominating in the total seed spectrum (Table 2). This is not the case for the Langford Tradition sites, in which the contribution of starchy grains to the seed assemblage is minimal (Table 2). In fact, aside from the anomalous Robinson’s Reserve site, from which 258 wild chenopods and polygonums were reported, starchy grains have so far been found at only three Langford Tradition sites: Keeshin Farms (n = 1), Reeves (n = 1), and Washington Irving (n = 4). The difference is well illustrated through comparing mean densities for the American Bottom and Langford sites. While Langford sites average only 38 starchy grains per liter (including Robinson’s Reserve) the American Bottom sites average 780, a difference that is significant at the .05 level (Table 4).
Most of the starchy grains that are present at Langford sites are either wild chenopod or polygonum seeds. Maygrass is absent, and little barley is rare. Single grains of the later were present at the Reeves and Keeshin Farms sites in northern Illinois. Little barley was also found at the contemporary Oneota tradition Crescent Bay Hunt Club site in Wisconsin (Egan-Bruhy 2001). Based on natural distribution models and its abundance at the Huber phase Oak Forest site in northern Illinois, David Asch and Nancy Asch-Sidell have suggested that little barley may have been introduced into northern Illinois during the late prehistoric period, although the mechanisms of that introduction are unknown (Asch and Sidell 1990).
The final subsistence class considered is nuts, represented by nutshell residues. As was the case for corn, nutshell indices can be highly variable among sites, both within and between different regions. Mean nutshell densities and ubiquities were calculated based on numbers from 13 sites in the American Bottom. For the Langford values, mean densities are based on information from six sites, and ubiquity on information from seven sites (Table 3). (Sample volumes were not available for the Robinson’s Reserve site.) Student t-Tests for differences in means between these two samples are again not significant at either the .05 or .20 levels. Again, the fact that densities appear quite different (1.4 and 3 fragments per liter) may be a function of occupation intensity. Despite large differences in raw numbers, the averaged statistics suggest that, overall, nut use was similar in both regions.
When we calculate the relative proportions of corn, nutshell and starchy grains by region, we see that the contribution of corn to the Langford and American Bottom sites are almost identical at 40 percent (Table 3). In the American Bottom, the difference is almost equally made up of nutshell and starchy grains, while at the Langford sites 56 percent is nutshell and only 3 percent starchy grains. This seems to contradict the nutshell statistics presented above, which suggest that nut use was fairly consistent across the board, but in fact does not. These proportions are relative only to one another and do not in any way represent the whole plant diet. In reality, our data suggest that the “nutshell” category may be better labeled as “wild plant foods”. Assuming relatively equal use levels of thick shelled hickory for Mississippian and Langford groups (as is suggested above), we can speculate the Langford “nutshell” category actually consists of about 30 percent thickshelled hickory and 26 percent other wild foods. Acorn, which is rare in the archaeological record, but was no doubt abundant in northern Illinois could conceivably contribute significantly to this 26 percent.. The main point of course is that corn was important in post-A.D. 1100 northern Illinois, but starchy grains were minor.
Implications of Plant Patterns
The Mississippian groups studied here were all characterized by a dependence on maize cultivation. In addition to its ubiquitous recovery from secondary fill, high levels of use are reflected in the recovery of huge numbers of corn remains from special function features (as noted above, excluded from calculations). Corn is especially abundant in smudge pits, where cobs were apparently used as fuel, but masses have also been identified from other specialized features such as the ceremonial pits at the Sponemann site (Parker 1992). In northern Illinois, corn is most common in assemblages from longer-term or more intense occupations, such as at the Cooke and Keeshin Farms sites, both of which also contained smudge pit features containing thousands of cob fragments. The relative abundance of cobs to kernels, as well as the apparent positive correlation of cob residue counts with occupation intensity, suggest that certain of these sites were the loci of corn cultivation (Asch and Sidell 1990; Simon 1999b).
The cultivation of the indigenous starchy grains was much more regionally variable. As outlined above, evidence for intensive cultivation is, for all intents and purposes, absent from Langford Tradition site assemblages from northern Illinois. Although we do have some evidence for earlier Late Woodland experiments with indigenous starchy grains, these efforts seem to have been dropped in favor of alternate strategies, particularly, but perhaps not exclusively, intensification of corn production (Simon 2000). Later in prehistory we find that little barley and members of the genera Polygonum sp. and Chenopodium sp. were relatively abundant in the Huber phase (ca. A.D. 1400) Oak Forest site assemblage. However, these seeds still do not appear to have been derived from domesticated plants (Asch and Sidell 1990). The fact that they were not domesticated does not however mean that they were not used, and it is entirely possible that they represent utilized plants that were tolerated or even encouraged in garden plots.
It is well recognized that starchy grains were an important part of the American Bottom Mississippian subsistence economy (Johannessen 1984a, 1988, 1993a; Parker 1992; Parker and Simon 1994; Lopinot 1992). Although Nancy Asch-Sidell and David Asch (1985) have suggested that the native grains were less important in the lower Illinois River valley than in the American Bottom, the summary data presented here suggests that this difference is less marked in the southern valley reaches. It is however very apparent for the Spoon River Mississippian Tree Row site in the central Illinois River valley and the Apple River Mississippian Lundy site in northwestern Illinois. The Lundy site starchy seed complex was characterized by a relatively low number (n = 21) of morphologically mixed chenopod, with wild forms outnumbering domesticated forms by 2:1 (Schroeder 1989). Initial analysis suggests that the Tree Row farmstead site also contained a relatively low number of chenopod seeds, with a similar morphology ratio (data in possession of Simon). Additional samples, particularly from larger Mississippian sites such as Orendorf in the central Illinois River valley, would be useful for assessing levels of starchy seed use among these groups.
Although evidence for the cultivation of starchy grains-maygrass, erect knotweed, and chenopodium-is largely absent from the Langford Tradition site assemblages in northern Illinois, the record for fleshy fruits is relatively robust. In the Langford Tradition assemblages, it appears that wild plants occupied a dietary niche similar to that occupied by the starchy cultigens for groups in the American Bottom. These wild plants included the ubiquitous thick-shelled hickory. Acorn, which is not well represented in the record, may have been equally important because it, like the starchy grains, provides carbohydrates rather than fats (Egan 1987, 1993; Simon 2000). The use of wild plants would have provided needed diversity in the diet of groups whose agricultural base consisted almost exclusively of corn.
The archaeobotanical record as depicted in our research indicates that Langford people were maize agriculturalists. There is no evidence at this early date for cultivation of beans by Langford groups, and the record for the use of starchy grains in northern Illinois is scant. These groups have long been characterized as participants in a mixed subsistence economy in which wild plant foods figured prominently (Egan 1985; Parker 1985). However, the use of wild plants does not appear to take the place of corn cultivation but rather, as suggested by Egan, served as a buffer against possible crop loss for groups having a narrow, corn-focused agricultural base (Egan 1985, 1987). The fact that the cultivation of corn, supplemented by the gathering of locally available resources, was a possible strategy for these groups further suggests that population size and settlement duration were stable and that wild resources were widely available.
We would note that, among northern Illinois archaeobotanists, the idea that corn comprised a major component of the Upper Mississippian diet has been under discussion for some time. In fact, early investigators at the Zimmerman site (N. Asch and D. Asch 1975; Blake and Cutler 1975) suggested that this was the case, although these earlier residues are not as strictly provenienced as later remains. Parker (1985:1) has stated that the Cooke site plant remains reflect “an economy based on maize horticulture and the intensive exploitation of localized resources”. Egan’s investigations at both the Zimmerman and Washington Irving sites (1985, 1987, 1993) have lead her to conclude likewise. At the Zimmerman site, she found that “maize is preeminent among the subsistence remains” (Egan 1993:13). Simon identified the same pattern (1999a, 2000) in studies of Langford Tradition sites in the Rock River valley of north central Illinois. Thus the potential importance of corn to Upper Mississippian groups in northern Illinois has long been suspected by archaeobotanists working in the area.
No evidence is as direct and as valuable in assessing prehistoric diet and the consumption of maize as the physical remains of the people themselves. Paleopathological conditions in the skeletal remains of a population provide one source of evidence for dietary reconstructions. Certain demographic and patterns of disease can be expected for non-industrial, maize-agriculturalists including an increased mortality rate, a higher incidence of infectious disease and iron deficiency anemia, arrested growth, and an increase in dental pathologies. These conditions are evidenced by an increase in the frequency of nonspecific boney lesions (e.g., periostitis, osteomyelitis), and in porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia, an increase in dental caries and linear enamel hypoplasias, evidence for arrested growth and reduced stature, and an increased mortality rate when compared to pre-maize populations in the same regions (Blakey 1981; Blakey and Armelagos 1985; Blakely 1977; Goodman et al. 1980; Lallo 1972; Lallo et al. 1979; Lallo and Rose 1979; Larsen 1995, 2002).
It is not so much the diet as the lifestyle changes that accompany the practice of maize agriculture that most negatively disrupts the health of these populations. Agricultural populations tend to be larger, more concentrated, and less mobile than foraging groups. Health consequences of this increased sedentism include poor sanitation, increased risk of infection, and the maintenance and spread of infectious disease. The shift to agriculture is often assumed to narrow the dietary base to a reliance on one or few staple crops that are often of low nutritional value (e.g., maize).
Human remains have been exposed in a number of Langford mound and cemetery sites in the last century. Unfortunately, while mortuary behavior data (burial treatment, position, artifacts, etc.) is sometimes available, human biological data is scarce. Poor stratigraphie and contextual control at a number of sites, the selective collection (or not) of skeletal remains, and the failure either to conduct or present a comprehensive analyses of the human remains makes osteological comparisons between populations difficult. Recent and ongoing analyses of individuals from the Material Service Quarry site and the Gentleman Farm site by ITARP personnel provides baseline information on the health and subsistence patterns of Langford peoples.
Fifty-two individuals were identified in our recent reanalysis of the human remains from the Gentleman Farm site2 (Hedman and Hargrave 2001-2002) and thirty-six individuals were identified in the ongoing laboratory analysis of the Material Service Quarry sample (Hedman 1998-1999). A high percentage of infants and children were identified in both samples suggesting that recovery and preservation of preadult remains was unbiased (Figure 2). Both sexes and virtually all age categories are represented. Few elderly (50+ years) individuals were identified in either assemblage. A comparison of the demographic profiles of Langford Tradition, American Bottom, and Illinois River valley Mississippian populations demonstrates their comparability and similarity (Figure 2). The age pattern for all three regions approximates that expected for nonindustrial human populations (Weiss 1973). The general pattern is one of high infant and early childhood mortality, decreasing mortality rates during later childhood and adolescence, and a secondary mortality peak in young to middle adulthood.
Differences in skeletal preservation and completeness, and the methods of tabulating and reporting the pathologies, as well as problems inherent in classifying individuals within multi-component sites make it difficult to quantify variation in skeletal health indicators between populations. Subjectively we can note that the types of pathological lesions found in these Langford samples are similar to those reported for contemporaneous populations in the American Bottom and Illinois River valley.
Estimated rates of adults with inflammatory bone lesions in the Langford sample (Table 5) are comparable to the high rates reported for the Illinois River valley Mississippian populations at Dickson Mounds (67 percent of adults) and for the Schild and Orendorf site populations (Buikstra and Milner 1989; Goldstein 1980; Hanson 2000a, 2000b). Inflammatory lesions were not as commonly identified for American Bottom Mississippian populations (25 percent of adults)-although this may reflect, in part, the poor bone preservation that often characterizes American Bottom skeletal remains (Emerson et al. 1983; Hedman and Margrave 1999; Milner 1982, 1983; Titelbaum 1996). Lesions consistent with tuberculosis and treponemal infection are found in all three populations (Buikstra and Milner 1989; Emerson et al. 1983; Goldstein 1980; Hanson 2000a, 2000b; Milner 1982, 1983).
Mild porotic hyperostosis was observed for seven Gentleman Farm and three Material Service Quarry adults-these 10 individuals represented 24 percent of observable Langford adults in our sample (Table 5). This is greater than the 10 percent of adults in the Dickson Mound Mississippian sample identified with porotic hyperostosis (Goodman et al. 1984). In the American Bottom Mississippian samples, the percent of affected adults range from 3 percent at Kane Mounds (Milner 1982) to a very high 67 percent for Corbin Mounds (Titelbaum 1996). Porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia were largely healed in these adults indicating that the anemic state that precipitated it was not active at the time of death. Unhealed, or active, porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia were observed in preadult remains suggesting an active anemic state at the time of death for infants and children.
Dental Pathology and Morphology
Dental remains can provide significant information on the health and subsistence practices of otherwise poorly preserved or incomplete skeletal populations. Dental data also has proven to be the easiest to standardize across various studies and provides one of the few comparable data sets for these sites.
The overall dental health of the Langford Tradition populations was poor. In addition to dental caries and linear enamel hypoplasias (LEHs), periodontal disease, apical abscesses, and dental calculus were all prevalent.
Carious lesions were present on 32 percent of Gentleman Farm and Material Service Quarry teeth (Table 5). This rate is comparable to that of the American Bottom Mississippian Corbin Mounds site (29 percent) (see Hedman and Hargrave 1999).
These rates are high, even for agricultural populations. Larsen (1997) reports the mean caries rate (percent of teeth affected) for agricultural populations is greater than 15 percent (Larsen 1997), with a range of 2.3 percent (preagriculture) to 26.9 percent (agriculture) for populations.
For both Langford Tradition and American Bottom populations the percent of affected individuals (represented by permanent dentition) was greater than 75 percent. Comparable data are not readily available from Illinois River valley sites, however a marked increase in caries is reported for the Mississippian Dickson Mounds sample when compared to that of earlier Dickson Mounds populations (Buikstra and Milner 1989; Lallo and Rose 1979).
At 83 percent the LEH frequency of the anterior teeth (maxillary and mandibular incisors and canines) for the Langford samples is high, but comparable to the LEH frequency of 80 percent reported for populations that practice intensive agriculture (Lukacs 1989:281). Available American Bottom Mississippian populations have a lower average LEH frequency (66 percent). As with dental caries the percent of effected individuals (adult dentition) for both regions was greater than 75 percent. Comparable data is not available from Illinois River valley sites, although it is reported that the number and severity of LEHs increased for the Dickson Mounds Mississippian sample when compared to that of earlier Dickson Mounds populations (Buikstra and Milner 1989; Goodman et al 1980; Lallo and Rose 1979). The frequency of LEHs, the number of affected individuals, and the occurrence of multiple lines of arrested growth per tooth indicate that individuals in these populations were subject to multiple or repeated episodes of nutritional and/or disease stress during infancy and childhood.
While the skeletal and dental pathologies observed are consistent with a maize-dependent diet, and the botanical evidence confirms the presence of maize, these lines of evidence do not indicate the proportion of maize in the diet.
Stable isotopic analysis of human skeletal material offers the potential for moving beyond the broad levels of dietary interpretation provided by traditional archaeological, archaeobotanical, and faunal evidence since it allows for the direct measurement of specific classes of foods consumed by individuals within a population. These methods can be applied to the North American Midcontinent because there are food sources in the diet that differ significantly in their carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios and these differences are incorporated into the body tissues and are detectable in the bone collagen and apatite of consumers.
In the Midwest, prior to the introduction of maize (about A.D. 900), the diet was composed almost entirely of C3 plants, including temperate grasses, roots, nuts, and fruits, and of the animals that consumed the C^sub 3^ plants (van der Merwe and Vogel 1978). The δ^sup 13^C values of these food resources range from -22 to -38%o, with an average value of about -26.5%o (Ambrose 1993; Deines 1980; Tieszen 1991). C4 plants in the diet of late pre-Columbian (post-A.D. 900) Midwestern populations include maize and possibly some chenopods and amaranths (Pratt 1994; Schwarcz et al. 1985; Smith and Epstein 1971). C^sub 4^ plants have δ^sup 13^C values that range from -8 to -14[per thousand], with an average value of -12.5[per thousand] (Deines 1980; Tieszen 1991; Tieszen and Fagre 1993a). Maize is the only C^sub 4^ plant thought to have contributed significantly to the diet of the populations examined in this study. Although animals that consumed maize or other C^sub 4^ plants could also have contributed to the C^sub 4^ enrichment of the diet, researchers have identified only a few potential animal sources (dog, turkey, some freshwater fish, and waterfowl have been suggested) (Cook 1984: 252; Hall 1993, pers. comm. 2002; Katzenberg 1989; Pratt 1994; Williams et al. 1997).
Nitrogen isotope ratios of collagen provide trophic level information (e.g. the importance of animal protein in the diet). This is possible because there is an approximate 3[per thousand] enrichment in ^sup 15^N between different levels in the food chain. Carnivores have a higher δ^sup 15^N than herbivores, which have a higher δ^sup 15^N than plants. Although considerable variation has been reported within trophic levels (Sponheimer et al. 2003), because plants have very little protein (10 to 20 percent), and meat has a great deal (85 to 90 percent), a small amount of meat, particularly from aquatic resources like fish or waterfowl (Katzenberg 1989), can dominate the nitrogen isotope ratio and greatly increase the δ^sup 15^N value of the consumer. Therefore, although one cannot accurately estimate the percentage of meat versus plant protein from an individual’s δ^sup 15^N value, a higher δ^sup 15^N value is generally assumed to indicate more meat consumption.
Previous research in the Midwest has focused primarily on the analysis of carbon isotopes of bone collagen. It has been demonstrated that collagen disproportionately reflects carbon from dietary protein and thus may underestimate the non-protein components of the diet (Ambrose and Norr 1993; Tieszen and Fagre 1993b). Bone apatite carbonate, the mineral component of bone, incorporates carbon equally from all dietary energy sources and thus reflects the isotopic composition of the whole diet, even when protein and non-protein components have very different δ^sup 13^C values and when diets have varying levels of protein. The difference between the apatite and collagen δ^sup 13^C values allows us to determine the δ^sup 13^C value of the dietary protein3. Thus, with both apatite and collagen carbon isotope ratios and collagen nitrogen data, protein and non-protein components of prehistoric diets can be reconstructed.
Samples of dense, well-preserved, cortical bone, weighing less than 10 g, were obtained from 1 preadult (12-15 yr) and 34 adult (> 15 yr) individuals (Gentleman Farm n = 25 and Material Service Quarry n = 10). Individuals of both sexes were included. Skeletal elements exhibiting pathological lesions, thermal alteration, extreme weathering, or preservatives were not sampled. Samples were processed and prepared for analysis according to techniques described in detail elsewhere (Ambrose 1987, 1990; Ambrose et al. 1997; Balasse et al. 2002).4
Exploratory data analysis included bivariate plots, stem-and-leaf figures, box-and-whisker plots and the calculation of the mean, median, hinges, and standard deviations using Systat 5.2 and Excel 5.0. Given the variable and often small sample sizes, both parametric t-test and nonparametric KruskalWallis tests were used to evaluate the presence of statistically significant differences both within and between sites (Daniel 1990). Probability values presented in the text are based on results of un-pooled Student’s t-Tests.
Hart (1999:163-169) has critiqued the use of inadequate sample sizes by researchers to represent broad trends in maize consumption. The key issue has been the failure of such studies to adequately identify, quantify, and account for intra-population variations in levels of maize consumption. Our earlier isotope study of American Bottom late Mississippian maize consumption addressed such issues and identified important variation among contemporaneous subpopulations (i.e., Hedman et al. 2002). Intra-population variation in the available Eangford samples was also identified. Overall, however, we conclude that while there is variation present within the Langford and Mississippian populations studied, this variation does not effect the overall validity of our argument.
Stable Isotope Results
The Langford Tradition sample is characterized by mean O13C values for bone collagen (-12.0 +/- 1.1[per thousand]) and apatite (-5.2 +/- 1.0[per thousand]) that suggest a strong C^sub 4^ component to the diet (i.e., significant maize consumption). The mean δ^sup 13^C^sub ap_coll^ of 6.8 +/- 0.8[per thousand] for the Langford Tradition sample indicates that the dietary protein was more depleted in δ^sup 13^C than the whole diet, and likely included primarily C^sub 3^ and limited C^sub 4^ resources. The Langford Tradition sample mean δ^sup 15^N value of 9.5 +/- 0.4[per thousand] suggests moderate meat consumption. Together these values indicate a largely plant based diet, with 53 percent of the dietary protein and 70 percent of the whole diet derived from C^sub 4^ resources (Figure 4). Variation in δ^sup 13^C values among individuals within the Langford Tradition sample is very small, on the order of 1[per thousand], or about 7 percent difference in C^sub 4^ consumption. There is no statistically significant difference in δ^sup 13^C values between males and females within the sample as a whole, nor is there a statistically significant difference in δ^sup 13^C values between males and females within either the Gentleman Farm or Material Service Quarry samples.
When compared to one-another, the Gentleman Farm and Material Service Quarry samples do show statistically significant differences in collagen δ^sup 13^C (p = 0.04), apatite δ^sup 13^C (p = 0.0001), and apatite-collagen spacing (p = 0.04), as well as in calculations of the percent C^sub 4^ in whole diet (p = 0.0001) and percent C^sub 4^ protein consumption (p = 0.04). These values indicate that Gentleman Farm individuals consumed more C^sub 4^ resources overall than did individuals in the Material Service Quarry sample. These differences are also present when males and females within each sample are compared separately. These differences fall within the 10 percent range of expected variability, and although actual differences in diet reflected by these values was likely not large, they still suggest a pattern of less C^sub 4^ consumption by the Material Service Quarry population. The degree of variation between these two sites is similar to that found between some Mississippian sites in the American Bottom (Hedman et al. 2002; Table 7).
The American Bottom sample is characterized by mean δ^sup 13^C values for bone collagen (-11-4 +/- 1.0[per thousand]) and apatite (-4.9 +/- 1.1[per thousand]) that suggest significant maize consumption. The mean δ^sup 13^C^sub ap_coll^ of 6.4 +/- 1.3[per thousand] for the American Bottom sample indicates that the dietary protein was more depleted in δ^sup 13^C than the whole diet, and likely included primarily C^sub 3^ and limited C^sub 4^ resources. The American Bottom sample mean δ^sup 15^N value of 9.3 +/- 0.6[per thousand] suggests moderate meat consumption. Together these values indicate a largely plant based diet, with 57 percent of the dietary protein and 71 percent of the whole diet derived from C^sub 4^ resources.
When data from these Langford Tradition populations are compared to data from contemporaneous American Bottom populations statistically significant differences are found in the collagen δ^sup 15^N (p = 0.03) and collagen δ^sup 13^C (p = 0.02). These differences are very small (less than 1[per thousand]) and fall well within the 10 percent range of expected variability. While American Bottom and Langford Tradition females differ significantly only in collagen δ^sup 15^N (p = 0.01), males show significant differences in collagen δ^sup 13^C (p = 0.004), apatite-collagen spacing (p = 0.006), and the percent C^sub 4^ of protein (p = 0.01). The collagen δ^sup 15^N values for males in these two samples do not differ significantly, suggesting that the dietary differences lie in the type of protein consumed rather than the amount of protein. This may reflect the greater consumption of C^sub 4^ protein identified within a subsample of American Bottom males (see discussion in Hedman et al. 2002, Williams et al. 1997).
The Illinois River valley Mississippian people are characterized by mean δ^sub 13^C values from bone collagen of -11.4[per thousand] (Table 6). This value is based on published mean δ^sup 13^C values for the Dickson and Orendorf Mounds (Buikstra et al. 1994), and for Schild Knolls A and B individuals (Schober 1998), and is comparable to the mean δ^sup 13^C values from bone collagen for both the Langford Tradition and American Bottom samples (Table 6, Figure 3). The percent C^sub 4^ contribution to whole diet is calculated using the δ^sup 13^C from bone apatite, which are unavailable for most earlier published data, so direct comparisons of the percent C^sub 4^ of whole diet for Illinois River valley populations cannot be made. The percent C^sub 4^ from dietary protein for the Illinois River valley (56 percent) is comparable to that calculated for the Langford Tradition and American Bottom populations (Figure 4). However, it should be cautioned that populations with identical δ^sup 13^C values from bone collagen can have very different percent C^sub 4^ of their whole diet. The available data suggest significant and comparable levels of C^sub 4^ consumption among American Bottom, Illinois River valley and Langford Tradition populations.
Skeletal Analysis Results
Results of the skeletal analyses indicate the presence of significant disease and nutritional stress, consistent with populations relying heavily on maize agriculture. These results are consistent with our expectations. Populations in all three regional populations are characterized by high infant mortality, a high incidence of infection (including generalized infection, tuberculosis, and treponemal infection) and anemia, a high caries rate, and a high frequency of LEHs. The stable isotope data indicate that all the populations analyzed in this study consumed comparable and significant amounts of maize. We conclude that Langford Tradition people consumed quantities of maize comparable to proportions eaten by American Bottom Mississippians, although they supplemented their corn with wild resources rather than cultigens of the Eastern Agricultural Complex.
In general, the observations of individuals from Gentleman Farm and Material Service Quarry cemeteries are consistent with expectations for agricultural populations and are comparable to available information derived from southerly Mississippian populations (Table 5).
The archaeobotanical, paleopathological, and isotopic evidence, supplemented by the archaeological data, demonstrates that Langford peoples were primarily corn agriculturalists who supplemented their diet with a rich diversity of wild floral and faunal resources. In fact, we suggest that the evidence supports a view of Langford subsistence practices as focusing on maize monocropping to the extent that they were equally as dependent on maize as were their southerly Mississippian neighbors. The notion of Langford Tradition maize-dependency opens new doors to conceptualizing their other cultural practices and their origins.
Rather than being “marginal horticulturalists,” the evidence indicates that Langford people indulged in similar levels of maize consumption as “agriculturalist” Mississippians; in the first case it was sup-plemented by wild resources, in the second case by cultivated indigenous plants and wild products. Hart (1990) in an earlier analysis seeking the reasons why Oneota groups may have practiced a less intensive horticulture concluded that an explanation that linked population density to intensification was the most likely reason. Like Brown (1982) before him he concluded that Oneota peoples’ low population levels did not require them to develop a more intensive system of maize agriculture. How applicable such observations are to Langford groups is increasingly being questioned (e.g., Jeske 1989, 2003 and our work here). We suggest that Langford Tradition agricultural intensification may be directly tied to increasingly stable population aggregations and increased population density levels (also Emerson 1999a). We make no claims that the evidence for the maize dependent nature of Langford diet can be generalized to their Oneota neighbors. In fact, we would think that such a generalization would likely be inaccurate and inappropriate. We see Langford agricultural intensification stemming, at least partly, from a specific set of historically contextualized responses to a specific set of historic events.
Most regional archaeologists believe that Langford Tradition cultural practices emerged from those of the indigenous Late Woodland peoples of northeastern Illinois (e.g., Brown et al. 1967; Emerson 1999a, 1999b, 1999c; Fowler 1952; Gillette 1949a, 1949b; Jeske 1992). Recent research on the Late Woodland Des Plaines Complex has supported this association (Emerson 1999a; Emerson 1999c; Emerson and Titelbaum 2000). These Late Woodland horticulturalist groups, manufacturing the distinctive Starved Rock Collared ceramics, occupied northern Illinois from the midninth through the early twelfth century, practiced maize gardening along with the use of starchy and oily seeds, and squash, and made use of the local fish, birds and mammals (Simon 1999b, 2000; Penman 1999). Much of what is known of their settlement patterns has been recovered from small sites suggesting a mobile population. However, there are hints from earlier excavated sites in the Illinois River valley that these groups may have occasionally collected in large population agglomerations, perhaps seasonally, and practiced burial mound ceremonialism (e.g., Emerson 1999a:17-19; Emerson and Titelbaum 2000).
A severe impact on Late Woodland practices would have occurred when Mississippian chiefly level societies appeared in the Central Illinois River valley in the twelfth century, replacing and/or absorbing the indigenous Late Woodland peoples (Conrad 1991; Emerson 1999a; Esarey 2000; Jeske 1989, 1992). Emerson has suggested that this intrusion of more powerful societies on the southern border of the Des Plaines Complex people would have pressured them toward the “(1) coalescence of populations into larger aggregations, (2) increasing centralization of leadership, perhaps reflected in centralized rituals and activities, (3) escalated levels of violence, and (4) increased territorial boundedness” (1999a:12). All of these events can be observed in the archaeological evidence of the Langford Tradition sites especially in the Great Bend region of the Illinois River. Langford lifeways emerge directly from former Late Woodland practices as a response to the shifts in the local political, social, and economic environment-these shifts can be seen both as resistance to and emulation of the neighboring Mississippian chiefdoms (Emerson 1999a). We would characterize these changes as encouraging the emergence and relative stability of large population concentrations among the Illinois River valley Langford Tradition populations.
It is in the context of this dramatic change in socio-political practices that the role of maize agriculture can be best understood. The subsistence practices of Des Plaines Complex people, which included small-scale maize production, were not geared to the creation of surplus that would be required to support the large-scale and longer-term population gatherings and social, political and material changes that characterized the Langford Tradition. With the intrusion of Mississippian chiefdoms into the region Langford populations would have had increased economic, social, and political interaction with these hierarchically organized societies. This interaction likely included the probability of some emulation as well as increased levels of intergroup violence (e.g., Emerson 1999a; also Milneret al. 1991). One option available to those who had aggressive chiefly neighbors was to minimize the threat by dispersing widely across the landscape into small highly mobile bands. At least some Des Plaines Complex inhabitants apparently did not follow this path. Instead they consolidated into larger population agglomerates. With the need to support larger, more stable social units came the intensification of the production of the most stable and storable resource available-maize. It is in this context that we should view the intensification of maize farming practices and the increased dependence documented in the osteological, and archaeobotanical evidence for Langford Tradition peoples, especially on the Mississippian frontier – both are intimately related to dramatic shifts in settlement and sociopolitical patterns (Emerson 1999a, 1999b, 1999c).
This research is part of a long-term, on-going program conducted by the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UILIC) to understand the interrelations of Mississippian and Upper Mississippian cultures in the Midwest. Portions of this research were supported by ITARP and the Department of Anthropology, UIUC, and the Illinois Department of Transportation. The Laboratory of Anthropology, UIUC and Dr. Delia Cook, University of Indiana, Bloomington generously provided access to materials. Eve Hargrave and Megan Jost helped collect skeletal data. Michael Farkas prepared Figure 1. Maps and figures are used with permission of ITARP.
We would like to thank various colleagues for their continuing interest and assistance in this research especially Stanley Ambrose and Delia Cook. Dale Henning, Dale Hutchinson, Mary Hynes, and Eve Hargrave read and commented on an earlier draff. Bill Lovis, Bob Jeske, and an anonymous reviewer for MCJA helped us to focus our presentation. Their insights and suggestions were important in achieving that goal.
1. In this discussion we will follow common Eastern Woodlands practice and use the terms horticulture and agriculture as generalized descriptive labels in which horticulture refers to “small-scale” and agriculture to “large-scale” crop production (sensu Scarry 1993:7). This usage is in contradistinction to a more traditional view that distinguishes horticulture from agriculture on the basis of the energy sourcehuman versus animal and mechanical energy. The New World perspective places more emphasis on the intensification of production through social and political modification than through the source of energy.
2. The inventory and analysis of human remains from the Gentleman Farm site was conducted at Indiana University in Bloomington during the course of collecting bone samples for radiocarbon dating and isotopic analysis. We collected dental data because of its proven value for providing a wealth of information on the age, health, diet, cultural practices, and biological relationships of individuals and populations. Even given these limitations, this re-examination of the Gentleman Farm skeletal collection is the first analysis (published) to address Langford Tradition skeletal and dental pathologies. It is also the first analysis to examine both cranial and postcranial remains for these individuals (see Neumann, in Brown et al. 1967:45).
3. When the diet is pure C^sub 3^ or C^sub 4^, the difference between collagen and apatite δ^sup 13^C values is about 4.5[per thousand]. When the δ^sup 13^Cap.con is greater than 4.5[per thousand], the δ^sup 13^C value of dietary protein is more negative than that of the whole diet, such as a diet of maize plus C^sub 3^-fed animals like deer, or protein rich C^sub 3^ plant foods like nuts, or both. When the δ^sup 13^C^sub ap_coll^ is less than 4.5[per thousand], dietary protein is less negative than the value of the whole diet. In this region and at this time (pre-Columbian Illinois) a diet having a δ^sup 13^C^sub apcoll^ smaller than 4.5[per thousand] may be characterized by C3 plants and maize-fed dogs.
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Thomas E. Emerson, Kristin M. Hedman, and Mary L. Simon
Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 209 Nuclear Physics Lab (MC-571), 23 East Stadium Drive, Champaign, Illinois 61821. email@example.com
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