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The Archaeology of Villages in Eastern North America$
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Jennifer Birch and Victor D. Thompson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781683400462

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683400462.001.0001

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Collective Action and Village Life during the Late Archaic on the Georgia Coast

Collective Action and Village Life during the Late Archaic on the Georgia Coast

Chapter:
(p.20) 2 Collective Action and Village Life during the Late Archaic on the Georgia Coast
Source:
The Archaeology of Villages in Eastern North America
Author(s):

Victor D. Thompson

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9781683400462.003.0002

This chapter examines shell rings of the Georgia Coast. I argue that the vast majority of shell rings represent co-residential village communities, and thus are some of the earliest villages in eastern North America. I identify several types of collective action problems that the formation of villages likely presented to shell ring inhabitants at both the village and landscape scales. I suggest that there were several solutions to these problems, none of which required top-down hierarchical control. Instead, I present a narrative that explains the functioning of these villages as a highly cooperative, self-organizing hunter-gatherer system, rooted in local and regional interaction through rituals and the maintenance of collective mass capture facilities and fishing technology, and management of resources in the context of surplus production.

Keywords:   shell rings, collective action, surplus, hunter-gatherers, ritual

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