Before Farming

Inland foragers and the adoption of maize agriculture in the upper Great Lakes of North America

Before Farming (2003), 2003, (1), 1–21.

Abstract

This paper considers the late prehistoric adoption of maize agriculture by coastal groups in the upper Great Lakes of North America. The goal is to investigate the social and economic consequences on inland hunter-gatherers that do not adopt agriculture. In addition to the expected restructuring of seasonal and geographical exploitation patterns, the inland groups develop a new regional aggregation ritual that fosters exchange and alliances with the coastal farmers. The central focus of this new social institution is a series of large circular earthworks that, in combination with ephemeral structures, burial mounds and clusters of cache pits, form a complex ritual precinct. The interactions surrounding this aggregation ritual permitted inland huntergatherers indirectly to gain access to rich coastal resources that could no longer be exploited directly and also provided a means for the acquisition of maize and durable trade materials.

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O'Shea, John

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