Shawnee and Fort Ancient mortuary customs : an ethnohistoric experiment

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Greene, Joel Mark
Glenn, Elizabeth J.
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Thesis (M.A.)
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The central theme of this study was to test the application of mortuary customs in the development of ethnic identities between historic and prehistoric manifestations. Two manifestations with a previously theorized relationship were selected as the sample cases: the archaeologically defined Fort Ancient Tradition, and the historic Shawnee Indians. Utilization of mortuary customs as the analytic agent required the formation of a common denominator to allow comparison of ethnographic and archaeological data. Recent studies have documented that mortuary customs when submitted to a form of componential analysis could be manipulated to yield significant data on social organization. These newly generated statements could then be plugged into a simple cross cultural analysis with the ethnographic data, returning a statistically measurable relationship. The degree of correlation is quite variable depending on available data. In this test it was determined that a relationship did exist, but a determination based solely on the evidence of social organization was not strong enough to formulate a solid conclusion. However, when coupled with recent ethnohistoric data an extremely strong case is presented, substantiating the proposed relationship and methodology.