Public service announcement! Friend, colleague, and all-around rad dude Dr. Andy White has a gift for us. Today, his Eastern Woodlands Household Archaeological Data Project went live on the interwebs, and anyone interested in the social dynamics of indigenous southeastern/midwestern/northeastern societies should take notice. On this website, Andy has made available data on prehistoric residential structures that he originally assembled for a great paper* in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. Much of this information comes from the deep, dark recesses of the grey literature; the point of the website is to make available these otherwise elusive datasets and thus allow researchers to ask and investigate a diversity of questions related to household archaeology.
This is what the internet is for, people!** Dissemination! Collaboration! All that good stuff. If household archaeology is your bag, I encourage you to check the site out, and contact Andy (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’ve got questions. Importantly, he is asking that interested folks submit relevant information, references, or datasets on prehistoric households as they make themselves known. Got a residential structure? Let him know!
In the meantime, what sorts of issues would you try and tackle with this database? As a Middle Woodland specialist, my knee jerk reaction is that datasets like this demand that we confront a longstanding research bias focused on mounds and earthworks and start exploring the everyday lives of the people who built them. This is not a revolutionary idea by a long shot, but as Darlene Applegate argued in a recent chapter on the Early-Middle Woodland domestic landscape of Kentucky, this line of inquiry has been hampered by the fact that many archaeologists don’t realize that there’s a decent domestic/residential archaeological record to work with. Well, be hampered no more, folks. The information is there, as long as Andy and future collaborators are willing and able to exhume it from the grey literature. Looking forward to seeing where this project goes…
*White, Andrew A. 2013. Subsistence Economics, Family Size, and the Emergence of Social Complexity in Hunter-Gatherer Systems in Eastern North America. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32:133-163.
**Obviously, the internet is also for this.