The Introduction briefly reviews current archaeological approaches to Archaic period shell mounds in the southeastern U.S. before laying out the alternative perspective employed in this book. Traditional accounts, rooted inecofunctionalistontology, have tended to portray shell mounds as static and largely interchangeable accumulations of everyday subsistence refuse. In contrast, the perspective espoused here views mounds—and places more generally—as dynamic gatherings or “assemblages” whose histories are composed of innumerable convergent events. This chapter outlines how, in the remainder of the book, this novel approach is combined with depositional and ceramic data in order to construct an eventful social history of Silver Glen, one of the largest and most elaborate shell mound complexes in the Southeast.
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