Depopulation and culture change in the early historic period interior Southeast

Material Information

Depopulation and culture change in the early historic period interior Southeast
Smith, Marvin T. ( Dissertant )
Fairbanks, Charles H. ( Thesis advisor )
Deagan, Kathleen A. ( Reviewer )
Gannon, Michael V. ( Reviewer )
Milanich, Jerald T. ( Reviewer )
Nunez, Theron A. ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
xiv, 231 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Acculturation ( jstor )
Archaeology ( jstor )
Bead welding ( jstor )
Brasses ( jstor )
Chiefdoms ( jstor )
Confederation ( jstor )
Depopulation ( jstor )
Diseases ( jstor )
Epidemics ( jstor )
Firearms ( jstor )
Acculturation -- History -- Southern States -- 16th century ( lcsh )
Anthropology thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF ( lcsh )
Indians of North America -- First contact with Europeans -- Southern States ( lcsh )
Indians of North America -- Population -- History -- Southern States -- 16th century ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Many changes occurred in aboriginal chiefdoms in the interior Southeast as a result of depopulation caused by European contact. This study focuses on these changes, accepting the thesis of rapid depopulation presented by Ann Ramenofsky and Henry Dobyns. It tests the hypothesis that depopulation was causal in the changes which took place. After reviewing the historical background on the study area, European trade goods recovered from archaeological contexts are seriated to provide fine chronological control for sites of the early historic period. This temporal framework is then used as a backdrop against which culture change is measured. Evidence exists for depopulation in the study area. Although limited, these data do suggest that both site size and number of sites decreased. The frequency of mass and multiple graves and evidence of population movements are also discussed as measures of depopulation. Evidence for political disintegration is much more dramatic. The end of the construction of public works, such as mounds and palisades, is shown to have taken place no later than the first third of the seventeenth century and elaborate hierarchies of sites disappeared at this time. Sociotechnic markers of elite status disappeared from use in the early seventeenth century and other specialized craft products also ended soon thereafter. There was apparently both population and political collapse by no later than the first third of the the seventeenth century and it is argued that the former caused the latter. Various archaeological measures of acculturation are utilized on data from the study area. It is argued that "acculturation" had little effect on the study area during the early historic period, even though dramatic changes took place. The remainder of the study discusses how the remnants of the once powerful chiefdoms were forced to band together to form the Creek Confederacy as a response to outside pressure from armed Indian groups from the North and English slave traders from the East. The Confederacy is seen as a late seventeenth century phenomenon.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1984.
Bibliography: leaves 213-230.
General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Marvin Thomas Smith.

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Marvin Thomas Smith

To Charlie, who taught me

the art of anthropology,

and to Dave, who taught me

the craft of archaeology


This study is the culmination of years of research interest in

the early historic period. I have attempted to acknowledge all of the

people who have given me considerable assistance in the past, but it is

inevitable that someone will be left out by accident. I sincerely

apologize to anyone who may have been overlooked.

My interest in the early historic period grew out of fieldwork

with David Hally at the Little Egypt site (1970-1972) and with Patrick

Garrow and Hally at the King Site (1973-1974). I owe both of these

gentlemen a great debt. Their support and friendship throughout the

years has been greatly appreciated.

This study would not have been possible without the availability

of data from private collections. I am particularly indebted to Richard

and Juanita Battles, Jon Peek, and Steve Hunter for allowing me to study

their collections.

Numerous individuals also allowed access to unpublished data.

Frank Schnell supplied data from the Abercrombie site, Mary Elizabeth

Good furnished information on the Tallassee site in Alabama, Paul

Parmalee allowed access to the McClung Museum notes and collections

from several sites in Tennessee, Mark Williams furnished valuable dis-

cussions of the Scull Shoals and Joe Bell sites, Keith Little furnished

information about the King Site sword, Caleb Curren supplied additional

Alabama data, and Vernon J. Knight supplied comments, criticisms, and

made data from the University of Alabama site files available.


The contributions of Richard Polhemus must be singled out.

Richard freely shared his detailed knowledge of eastern Tennessee with

me both in the form of discussions and as a manuscript which he has

been preparing for publication. Although Richard's name appears

throughout the text, such citations do not cover the scope of his

assistance. The hospitality shown by Richard and his parents to me

during a data collecting expedition to Knoxville will long be remembered.

I also owe a great debt to Charles Hudson and Chester DePratter

of the University of Georgia. After years of collaboration in research-

ing the explorations of Hernando de Soto and Juan Pardo, it is often

difficult to separate our thoughts on the early historic period. Much

which appears here can no doubt be attributed to them.

Wallace Reservoir data were generously supplied by David Hally,

Mark Williams, Gary Shapiro, Jerald Ledbetter, Dan Elliot, and James

Rudolph. Rudolph in particular must be thanked for providing the results

of his rim sherd analysis.

Ann Ramenofsky provided a copy of her excellent dissertation

late in the project. This allowed me to avoid duplicating much of her

research on specific diseases. Many of our methods were quite similar,

but independently derived. I hope that she will find this study as

interesting as I found hers.

L. B. Jones and Carrie Avent have assisted me to a great extent

in my quest for knowledge about glass trade beads. Their contribution

to this research cannot be overlooked.

In addition to my formal committee, Charles Hudson, David Hally,

Steve Kowalewski, Gary Shapiro, and Robert Wilson read early drafts of

this work and made many useful comments. The scholarly and emotional

support of these friends over the years is greatly appreciated.

My formal committee consisted of an excellent array of scholars

of the Spanish presence in the New World and historic aboriginal groups

of the Southeast. Kathleen Deagan and Jerald Milanich's work on various

Spanish mission sites and Deagan's work at St. Augustine are well known.

These two individuals aided me tremendously in organizing my often

random thoughts into a scholarly work. Dr. Milanich kindly took me under

his wing and provided financial support during my Florida studies.

Michael Gannon's historical work with Florida missionaries and with the

Juan Pardo expedition and Theron Nunez's work with Creek ethnohistory

made both of these scholars natural contributors to this study.

My chair, Charles Fairbanks, provided constant encouragement.

His fieldwork from Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama had a direct bearing

on this research. Indeed, Fairbanks worked with the following early

historic sites: Rymer, Ledford Island, Hiwassee Island, ICelOl,

Tallassee, Abercrombie, and Lamar. In addition to his widespread field-

work, Fairbanks' pioneering publications on Spanish colonial artifacts

made him uniquely suited to supervise this research. Fairbanks also

provided funds for a data collecting trip to Georgia and Tenneessee

during the summer of 1983. I will be constantly in his debt since he

continued to chair my committee after his retirement and in the face of

failing health.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents and grandmother for

their years of support. Only through their generosity was I able to

pursue my scholarly training.

The manuscript was typed by Sofia Kohli, whose knowledge of "the

system" made the final production a joy. The figures were drawn by the

author and Robin Teas.

To each of these people I offer my sincerest thanks.




LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . . . . x

LIST OF FIGURES . . . . . . . . ... . .. . .xii

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii


I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . .... . .. 1

Definitions . . . . . . . . . . 2
Background to the Problem . . . . . . . 5
A Model of Early Historic Period Change . . . 9
Goals of the Study . . . . . . . . 10
Theoretical Orientation . . . . . . . 12
The Data Base . . . . . ... . . 15
Methodology and Organization of the Study . . .. 16



Dating the Artifacts . . .
Glass Beads . . . . .
Iron Axes and Knives . .
Brass Ornaments . . . .
Firearms . . . . .
Bells . . . . . .
Discussion of Assemblages . . .
Aboriginal Materials . . . .

. . 39

. . 47
. . 49
. 52
. . 55
. . 58
. . 60
. . 61
. . 70


Historical Background . . . . . . . .
Documented Effects of Disease .. . ........
Archaeological Parameters . .. .........
Site Size ...................
Number of Sites . . . . . . . .
Population Movement .. . .........
Discussion . . . . . .


V THE FALL OF CHIEFDOMS . . . . . . . . 122

Historical Background . . . . . . . . 123
Archaeological Correlates . . . . . . .. 126
Public Works . . .. .. .. .. . 126
Hierarchical Settlement Systems . . ... 137
Mortuary Practices . . . . . .... 140
Craft Specialization . . . . .... 149




THE WALLACE RESERVOIR . . . . . . . .. 209

REFERENCES CITED . . . . . . . . ... .. .. . 213

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . . ... .... . 231


Table Page

1. Correlations of towns mentioned in sixteenth
century narratives with archaeological sites
in the study area based on research by Charles
Hudson, Chester DePratter, and Marvin Smith . . ... 30

2. Sixteenth century political relationships
according to the De Soto, Luna, and Pardo
narratives . . . . . . . . .. . 32

3. Estimated date ranges for selected bead
types . . . . . . . ... .... . .51

4. Distribution of Brass Animal Effigy
Pendants . . . . . . . . ... . . . .57

5. European artifact assemblages . . . . . .... 63

6. Master chronology of sites of the early
historic period . . . . . . . ... . 72

7. Disease epidemics in Florida, 1512-1672 . . . . 80

8. Frequency of mass and multiple burials . . . . . 88

9. King site structure data . . . . . . .... .95

10. Site size/population data: Coosa province . . ... 97

11. Decrease in number of sites in western
study area . . . . . . . ... . . . 101

12. European disease and Coosa river settlement . . .. 110

13. Mound occupation span . . . . . . .... 128

14. Mound construction . . . . . . . .... . 129

15. Presence of palisades . . . . . . . ... 135

16. Site shape data . . . . . . . ... 138

Table Page

17. Presence of aboriginal status markers . . . ... 143

18. Grave goods data . . . . . . . . . . 147

19. Distribution of Citico style gorgets . . . . .. 152

20. The Wauchope model of culture contact situations .... .159

21. The John White Model ................... 161


Figure Page

1. Location of study area . . . . . . . . . 3

2. Location of sixteenth century towns . . . . .... 29

3. Location of archaeological sites . . . . . .... 48

4. Assemblage A and B . . . . . . . ... . 64

5 Assemblage C . . . . . . . . ... ...... 67

6. Assemblage D . . . . . . . . ... .. . .. .69

7. Suggested population movements . . . . . .... 107

8. Aboriginal status markers . . . . . . .... 142

9. Citico style rattlesnake gorget, Citico site . . ... 151

10. Seventeenth century population movements . . . ... .193

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Marvin Thomas Smith

August 1984

Chairman: Charles H. Fairbanks
Major Department: Anthropology

Many changes occurred in aboriginal chiefdoms in the interior

Southeast as a result of depopulation caused by European contact. This

study focuses on these changes, accepting the thesis of rapid depopula-

tion presented by Ann Ramenofsky and Henry Dobyns. It tests the hypothe-

sis that depopulation was causal in the changes which took place.

After reviewing the historical background on the study area,

European trade goods recovered from archaeological contexts are seriated

to provide fine chronological control for sites of the early historic

period. This temporal framework is then used as a backdrop against

which culture change is measured.

Evidence exists for depopulation in the study area. Although

limited, these data do suggest that both site size and number of sites

decreased. The frequency of mass and multiple graves and evidence of

population movements are also discussed as measures of depopulation.

Evidence for political disintegration is much more dramatic.

The end of the construction of public works, such as mounds and pali-

sades, is shown to have taken place no later than the first third of

the seventeenth century and elaborate hierarchies of sites disappeared

at this time. Sociotechnic markers of elite status disappeared from use

in the early seventeenth century and other specialized craft products

also ended soon thereafter. There was apparently both population and

political collapse by no later than the first third of the the seven-

teenth century and it is argued that the former caused the latter.

Various archaeological measures of acculturation are utilized on

data from the study area. It is argued that "acculturation" had little

effect on the study area during the early historic period, even though

dramatic changes took place.

The remainder of the study discusses how the remnants of the

once powerful chiefdoms were forced to band together to form the Creek

Confederacy as a response to outside pressure from armed Indian groups

from the North and English slave traders from the East. The Confederacy

is seen as a late seventeenth century phenomenon.


This study focuses on the changes which occurred in the

aboriginal chiefdoms of a portion of the interior southeastern United

States as a result of European contact. Throughout the New World,

various types of culture change occurred among chiefdoms as a result

of contact. Some coastal groups were conquered and used for agri-

cultural labor and others were forced into mission systems (Hemming

1978; Service 1954; Geiger 1937). Aboriginal groups in the interior

of the southeastern United States, however, largely avoided sustained,

direct contact. Nevertheless, these latter societies underwent drastic

culture change.

There are no direct historical accounts of these changes in

the interior populations because no Europeans were present to document

them. Understanding the processes of cultural disintegration thus

becomes an archaeological problem, and it is this historically

undocumented change which is investigated here. The central thesis to

be demonstrated is that population collapse, resulting from European

epidemic disease, was the major causal factor in change during the

early historic period in interior areas. It will be argued that

acculturation had virtually no influence outside of areas of prolonged

European-Indian contact, such as the interior Southeast.


The term "interior Southeast" is used to indicate that portion

of the southeastern United States north of the fall line region and east

of the Mississippi Valley. Thus the coastal plain and Florida are

excluded from consideration. In coastal areas, contact between Europeans

and Indians was much more intensive and continuous, and different pat-

terns of culture change (acculturation) may have taken place because of

the presence of European settlements such as St. Augustine and Santa

Elena, and the presence of the Spanish missions along the Atlantic

coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia and across

northern interior Florida. Acculturation in these settings was quite

different from the indirect influences of disease investigated in this


The "study area" examined here is a portion of the interior

Southeast (Figure 1). It consists of the Georgia and Alabama Piedmont

and the Ridge and Valley Province of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.

Specifically the study area is bordered by the upper Alabama River on the

west, across the fall line to the Savannah River on the east, and north

of the present Bristol, Tennessee, area to the north. The mountainous

regions of northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and western North

Carolina are excluded. This area consists of the Tennessee River drain-

age, the Coosa River drainage, the Chattahoochee River drainage, the

upper Ocmulgee River drainage, and the upper Oconee River drainage.

Rather than concentrate on a single site or a single locality

(e.g., a reservoir), it was felt that a broad region was more appropriate

Figure 1. Location of the study area

for the hypotheses to be investigated. While a few individual sites

containing evidence of early European exploration have been described,

no one has tried to synthesize the effects of early European exploration

within a relatively large area of the Southeast, at least not in

archaeological terms. Historians and ethnohistorians have utilized the

documentary record to interpret what took place in the interior, but

these sources have had little to say about the interior Southeast. Only

by combining the meager historical documentation with the archaeological

evidence can we hope to gain a reasonably full understanding of the

processes that reshaped the southeastern societies.

The "early historic period" is defined as that period when

Spaniards made up the only European presence in the study area. It be-

gins in 1540 with the expedition of Hernando de Soto and ends with the

arrival of English traders from Virginia and South Carolina in the 1670s.

Because this is a study of both direct and indirect European influence,

it would be appropriate to begin the study somewhat earlier; European

goods and diseases filtered into the interior in advance of Europeans

(B. Smith 1968:63,64; Ramenofsky 1982).

Following Elman Service (1962:143), a chiefdom is defined here

as a group with both a denser society and a more complex form of organi-

zation than a tribe. Chiefdoms have highly productive economies and

they have centers "which coordinate economic, social, and religious

activities." Service also argues that "chiefdoms are redistributional

societies with a permanent central agency of coordination" (1962:144);

however, Peebles and Kus (1977:423-424) argue that redistribution is not

necessarily an indicator of chiefdoms. All of these authors agree

that chiefdoms are "ranked societies" in which there is "pervasive

inequality of persons and groups in the society" (Service 1962:154).

People are socially ranked according to their geneological nearness to

the chief (Service 1962:155). The archaeological correlates of chief-

doms proposed by Peebles and Kus (1977) are utilized here, and these

will be discussed in Chapter V.

George Foster's definition of acculturation is accepted in this

study (1960). Foster views acculturation as a type of culture change

in which long-term contact between a dominant donor culture and a

recipient culture result in the latter becoming more like the former.

Acculturation will be discussed in more detail in Chapter VI.

Background to the Problem

The demographic collapse of the inhabitants of the New World has

been the focus of a number of recent studies. Henry Dobyns (1966,1983),

William Denevan (1976), Sherburne Cook and Woodrow Borah (1960), Alfred

Crosby (1972), and Ann Ramenofsky (1982) have demonstrated that a cata-

clysmic decline in population took place following the introduction of

the Old World pathogens after 1492. Because we are just now coming to

a full realization of the tremendous magnitude of this decline, few

scholars have considered the effects of the decline on New World chief-


For example, in his study of sixteenth century culture change

in Paraguay, Elman Service (1954) does not consider depopulation as a

causal factor. In a later work, Julian Steward and Louis Faron

(1959:176) use the term "deculturation" to designate a type of culture

change in which important cultural features are lost. Their best

example of deculturation is the case of the Cuna Indians of present


It became clear that the Cuna Indians, who are the modern
descendents of the Indians buried at Cocld, had been so broken
by the Spanish Conquest that their native chiefdoms.were
destroyed, their social classes eliminated, and their skills in
producing art goods in textiles, ceramics, and metallurgy were
lost. What remained was a primitive society much like that
of the Amazonian Indians. That is, the Cuna retained the
simple features of their native village life, but lost the
institutions and skills associated with chiefdoms and social
classes. (Steward and Faron 1959:176)

Although Steward and Faron have introduced a useful concept in

"deculturation," they do not describe the process; rather, they contrast

the Cuna as described in sixteenth century accounts left by Spanish

explorers and archaeologically recovered evidence of prehistoric Cuna

lifestyle with modern Cuna culture, demonstrating that virtually all

"higher" levels of political, religious, and craft aspects of culture

have been lost. Furthermore, they do not tie their process of decultur-

ation to population loss. Indeed, in speaking of the chiefdoms of

northern Venezuela, they point out that early Spanish conquest led to

the area being greatly depopulated. "The surviving Indians retreated

into the forests, where they were soon deculturated to an unstratified,

simple village or folk level of society" (Steward and Faron 1959:241).

That is, they seem to view deculturation as a later process after depop-

ulation and dispersement, not a concurrent aspect of one overall phenom-

enon of change.

In what is basically an historical work, John Hemming (1978)

has described the collapse of Brazil's native population. While recog-

nizing the importance of the introduction of European disease, Hemming

also stresses the effects of the slave trade and the mission system. He

carefully documents the evidence for large Amazonian aboriginal groups

described by sixteenth century explorers and contrasts this with later

accounts of abandoned areas, but he does not analyze the process. The

Amazon basin appears to be similar to many areas of the New World. It

was quickly explored during the sixteenth century, but when no valuable

commodities were discovered, it was forgotten and only revisited genera-

tions later. During that time lapse, vast changes in the aboriginal

population took place. The interior southeastern United States underwent

a similar experience.

Perhaps the only person to seriously consider the specific ef-

fects of depopulation on aboriginal cultural organization is Henry Dobyns.

In his recent work, Their Number Become Thinned (1983), Dobyns suggests

that depopulation was severe and that it caused much cultural change.

He discusses settlement amalgamation-the banding together of survivors,

settlement shifts to new locations, simplification of the social system,

despecialization of economic structure, loss of skilled specialists, and

new types of warfare, all resulting from depopulation brought about by

European disease epidemics. Thus Dobyns presents a model for the changes

brought about by disease.

Dobyns uses primarily secondary, translated, historiographic data

to demonstrate his thesis that depopulation caused cultural change. His

main case study is the Timucuan Indians of Florida, a group that was

under almost constant direct European contact beginning in the 1560s,

first with the French (Bennet 1975) and later the Spaniards (Lyon 1976;

Geiger 1937; Milanich and Proctor 1978). Thus, we cannot be certain

that forces of acculturation were not responsible for much of the change

that Dobyns documents. While Dobyns suggests that similar changes

took place in the interior (1983:324), he does not demonstrate it. He

does look at some archaeological data from the Seneca of western New

York, but it must be pointed out that because of their importance in

the fur trade, the Seneca were in direct contact with Europeans through-

out most of the seventeenth century, so again changes might not be due

to depopulation alone. Furthermore, Seneca society was not organized at

a chiefdom level, and it is the effect of depopulation on chiefdoms that

is the focus of this study. The goal here is to demonstrate that

depopulation was the major cause of culture change in an aboriginal

group removed from direct European contact. This approach requires the

application of archaeological methods rather than the use of historical

documentation because the latter does not exist.

Henry Dobyns has argued for far-reaching pandemics spread inland

from initial coastal contacts (Dobyns 1983). Ann Ramenofsky (1982) also

has argued forcefully that population collapse of interior groups pre-

ceded direct contact. This may well be the case. Almost certainly

early European explorers penetrating the interior portions of the New

World from Canada (Fenton 1940:175) to Brazil (Hemming 1978) also

infected its aboriginal inhabitants with new diseases. Thus, for the

purpose of this study, it is accepted that severe depopulation followed

European contact, and that even interior areas were affected. Evidence

to demonstrate this collapse and to document its timing will be

assembled, but the main goal of this research is to demonstrate the

effects that this depopulation had on aboriginal culture. Specifically,

the collapse of the interior southeastern Indian chiefdoms will be


A Model of Early Historic Period Change

A model of change during the early historic period might be

constructed as follows: As population declined through time, the number

of sites would be expected to decline, and sites should become smaller

and smaller over time. Tangible evidence of disease should be expected

in burial populations, and several measures of disease are presented in

Chapter IV. There is historical evidence that populations also moved

following disease epidemics, and if this was so, archaeological evidence

of migrations should be expected.

As the aboriginal population collapsed, it brought about changes

in sociopolitical organization. The complex chiefdoms described by

sixteenth century explorers (Ranjel and Elvas in Bourne 1922; Bandera

1569) gave way to eighteenth century tribal units of refugees described

by later Europeans (discussed in Swanton 1922,1928,1946); however, the

rate of this change is unknown. It is hypothesized that this change was

rapid, closely following upon the population collapse, and, indeed,

caused by it.

The changes brought about by depopulation were far reaching.

It will be argued in Chapter VI that in the absence of prolonged direct

European contact, these changes were not the result of acculturation.

Goals of the Study

Why has the decline of chiefdoms brought about by European

contact received so little study? As noted earlier, it is basically

an archaeological problem since virtually no European observers were

around to record the process.

Archaeological sites in the Southeast which produced early

European artifacts were frequently interpreted as dating to the

eighteenth century; indeed, there is still a tendency on the part of

some researchers to do this. The result is that only recently have the

artifacts typical of the early historic period been recognized. This

research should fill in a large void in the literature, and provide a

chronological ordering of over fifty archaeological sites which have

been excavated during the past century, as a background to looking at

the cultural processes that took place during the early historic period.

It is the measurement and assessment of these processes caused by depopu-

lation, which form the real contribution of this work.

In addition, this research will make several other contributions

to anthropology. First, it will contribute to our knowledge of culture

contact, especially the critical timing of cultural and population

collapse brought about by European/African contact with the New World.

The results are expected to demonstrate that collapse was rapid,

probably occurring in less than sixty years. This idea of rapid

breakdown has applicability throughout the New World.

The study also concentrates on a specific type of culture con-

tact situation. In the study area, direct European short-term contact

(exploration) was followed by over a century of indirect European

influence, primarily the spread of disease. It can be demonstrated

by historical and archaeological data sets thatdrastic culture change

took place, yet it is argued that this was not acculturation. Certainly

the processes of change were not the same as those in colonized or

missionized areas where a direct European presence was maintained.

There are other analogous situations throughout the New World, Amazonia

being a prime example. This type of culture change has not been studied

in detail. What are the indirect effects of a relatively distant

European presence?

Questions of the comparability of historical vs. archaeological

data will also be addressed. Carmack and Weeks (1981) have pointed out

that ethnohistorical and archaeological data often appear to conflict.

Do the archaeological data support the historical data for collapse in

this case study? If not, why not?

The study will contribute to culture history, specifically the

culture history of the Indians of the interior Southeast at a time of

rapid change. A chronological scheme for sites of the early historic

period in the interior has not previously been proposed. Thus, a portion

of this work in a sense resembles Hale Smith's Florida Study, The

European and the Indian (1956), in that it attempts to synthesize

scattered data into a coherent picture. The interpretations of tribal

history proposed by John Swanton are questioned, and alternatives


The study will also make methodological contributions,

especially in the use of European trade items to set up a chronological

scheme against which to measure culture change in very small time units.

This methodology is discussed in detail in Chapter III.

Most importantly, this research explores the application of

various archaeological methods to demonstrate the decline of chiefdoms

associated with general population decline. The direct historic approach

is shown to be invalid for the interior Southeast (and hence for many

areas of the New World), and the concept of the "indirect historical

approach" is introduced. This approach has applicability in areas

where infrequent contact by literate Europeans and severe population

decline combined to obscure the history of Native Americans.

Finally, two different techniques for establishing chronological

control are compared. A seriation of sites based on European trade

goods is used in the western portion of the study area, and a seriation

based on aboriginal ceramics is used in the eastern portion of the study


Theoretical Orientation

Historical archaeologists have long recognized that the major

strength of historical archaeology is that it combines multiple sources

of evidence. Both historical data (written and oral) and archaeological

data are combined to obtain a better understanding of past events

and processes (Fontana 1965; Hume 1969; Schuyler 1977). In a recent

discussion of the interaction of the disciplines of archaeology, his-

toriography, and ethnology, Jeffrey Brain and his colleagues (1974:232)

have proposed the term "Ethnohistoric Archaeology," which they apply to

"historic contact situations operating in a native context." They

contrast it with much of traditional historical archaeology which they

view as looking at our own Euroamerican past through archaeology. Like

other historical archaeologists, they feel that by bringing the

disciplines of archaeology, historiography, and ethnology to bear on a

given contact situation, a much more valid interpretation is possible

than one stemming from only one discipline.

The approach advocated by Brain and his colleagues seems closely

allied to what Immanuel Wallerstein has called a "unified social science"

(1979:vii-xii). This approach combines the disciplines of history,

anthropology, sociology, geography, archaeology, etc. to solve a particu-

lar problem selected by the researcher. In some senses of the term,

this is what Marvin Harris (1979:288-290) would call "eclecticism,"

although others would see it as the holistic approach used by anthro-

pologists for decades.

In a recent article, Carmack and Weeks (1981) use what they call

a conjunctive approach (not to be confused with that of Taylor 1948).

Their conjunctive approach uses both ethnohistorical and archaeological

data to give a full picture of Ulatlan. They point out that these data

sets frequently contradict-an important warning for anyone doing

ethnohistoric archaeology. They believe that this conjunctive approach

should be used to "downstream" from the historically known to the pre-

historically unknown. Certainly their approach is quite similar to the

one which will be applied here to data on the early historic period

interior Southeast. But instead of "downstreaming" from the histor-

ically known to the prehistorically unknown, the approach here is to

"upstream" from the historically known sixteenth century chronicled by

the De Soto, Luna, and Pardo expeditions to the historically unknown

interior of the seventeenth century.

Carmack and Weeks' conjunctive approach is in effect the Direct

Historic Approach advocated by several authors (Strong 1935; Steward

1942). The methodology utilized in this research can be referred to

as the indirect historic approach-working from the historically known

to the more recent historically unknown to the even more recent his-

torically known. It has been argued that it is almost impossible to use

a direct historic approach to work backward from the well-documented

eighteenth century tribal societies of the study area to their prehis-

toric chiefdom forebears (Smith 1976:45; Dobyns 1983:338,342). The only

viable approach is to look at the southeastern Indians at the dawn of

contact-through the eyes of the early Spanish explorers of the sixteenth

century. Once an understanding of that period is reached, it can be

used as a baseline to work both backward into prehistory and forward to

link up with the documented societies of the eighteenth century. It is

this upstreaming approach that will be used in this research.

The Data Base

Because this research is a synthesis of earlier research, using

old data to answer new questions, it must be pointed out that the sites

selected were not chosen for excavation specifically to test the re-

search hypotheses. Rather, the sites utilized in this research include

all sites thus far located in the study area which have produced European

trade objects typical of the early historic period (Chapter III). Over

fifty sites are represented in various degrees of completeness of data.

Not all desired variables were collected by all past researchers at these

sites. Thus, some hypotheses can be tested by a wide range of data from

many sites, while others can only be tested with limited data from a few

sites. Such are the problems arising from utilizing data collected by

previous researchers for other purposes.

The archaeological data utilized in this work were collected over

a century-long span from the late nineteenth century to the 1980s. Data

from research by nineteenth century observers for the Smithsonian Insti-

tution and the Bureau of American Ethnology, other individuals, such as

Clarence B. Moore and Warren K. Moorehead; numerous W.P.A. (Works

Progress Administration) projects; postwar reservoir salvage projects;

and modern contract archaeology are combined with data collected by

avocational archaeologists to present the fullest possible picture of

culture processes during the early historic period in the study area.

This certainly is not a "sample" in the statistical sense, although it

is the known complete population of excavated sites (recognizing that

the excavated sites are not a sample of the total sites). Yet the areas

relied upon for the bulk of. the interpretations, specifically the

Tennessee River drainage and the Coosa River drainage, are among the

most thoroughly investigated areas of the Southeast. It can be argued

that random research, as well as W.P.A. and later surveys in these

areas, probably has located the majority of the large early historic

period town and village sites. During the early historic period, small

hamlet size settlements are not characteristic of the Tennessee Valley

(Richard Polhemus, personal communication) and they do not seem to

characterize the Coosa drainage. Most people in these areas apparently

lived in towns. While the sample cannot be justified on scientific

grounds, the sample is adequate for the level of interpretation offered

in this research.

Data collected in the Wallace Reservoir Salvage Project of the

University of Georgia are used to serve as a check against the

Tennessee-Coosa data. The Wallace Reservoir survey is easily one of the

most thorough surveys systematically carried out in the interior South-

east. Over 1,500 archaeological sites were located by surface and sub-

surface techniques during the late 1970s. The sample of Wallace Reser-

voir sites is a scientific sample and should these data prove to support

the same hypotheses confirmed by the "grab sample" from other areas,

then we are on a firmer footing for interpretation of the cultural

processes that took place during the early historic period.

Methodology and Organization of the Study

The study has been organized in the following manner: Chapter II

presents the historical background for the interior Southeast in the

sixteenth century. The exploratory expeditions of Hernando de Soto,

Tristan de Luna, and Juan Pardo are discussed, as well as a few subse-

quent entradas into the study area or indirect mentions of the study

area in Spanish documents. A synthesis of recent attempts to locate

aboriginal groups in the study area is presented. This chapter provides

a baseline for the study; the powerful chiefdoms of the sixteenth century

are described as a basis for documenting later culture change. A syn-

thesis of recent attempts to identify specific archaeological sites

with historically documented sixteenth century groups is presented.

Chapter III details the chronology established from European

trade goods that is used as a fine time scale upon which to measure the

significant disintegrative processes of the early historic period. The

chapter begins with a discussion of the history of trade goods research

and the various methods which have been used to construct chronological

frameworks. Mechanisms of trade responsible for the introduction of

European items into the aboriginal cultures are explored. Various

European artifacts are discussed individually as chronological indica-

tors, and then these artifacts are combined into artifact complexes

believed to be diagnostic of four temporal subdivisions of the early

historic period. These four subdivisions provide the chronological

control-periods of 30-40 years-a scale much finer than would be

possible by using aboriginal ceramic sequences or radiocarbon determina-

tions. Chapter III continues with a discussion of some temporally

diagnostic aboriginal artifacts which may also be used to date sites of

the early historic period. The end product of Chapter III is a master

chronology table for all sites with datable complexes of early historic

period European trade material in the study area.

Chapter IV details the demographic collapse that took place in

the interior Southeast. The Dobyns and Ramenofsky thesis of depopula-

tion is accepted and archaeologically derived, corroborating evidence

for depopulation in the study area is assembled. The first section

details the historical evidence for population collapse as a consequence

of the introduction of European epidemic diseases. Historic evidence

demonstrates that there were epidemics which severely reduced population,

caused population movements, loss of culture, and social and political

reorganization. The remainder of the chapter develops archaeological

measures of European disease and its consequences, and applies these

measures to data from the study area. Archaeological measures of

depopulation discussed in this chapter include direct skeletal evidence,

evidence from population curves, the presence of mass and multiple

burials, decrease in the size and number of sites, and evidence of

population movements.

It is clear that when discussing decrease in the number of sites

over time as a possible result of European disease epidemics, a regional

approach must be utilized to control for migration (Ramenofsky 1982).

There is historical documentation of population movements of people

fleeing diseased areas (discussed further in Chapter IV). Clearly if

a small area is studied, the number of sites may decline drastically if

people move away. By looking at larger regions, such as river drainage

basins or the study area as a whole, the effect of migration is minimized.

Another methodological control utilized in this research comes

from different types of chronological control utilized. In the western

drainages of the study area, only those sites which have produced datable

European artifacts were analyzed. This was done to produce the chrono-

logical control necessary to measure culture change in several distinc-

tive archaeological culture areas. These areas do not have the fine

scale ceramic chronologies that would make possible the control necessary

to include sites which may be of the early historic period, but which

have not yet produced European artifacts. It must be remembered that

sites which have not produced a single European artifact could nonethe-

less have been occupied during the early historic period. Certainly

European goods were not present at all sites in the sixteenth century

and the kind of limited archaeological research that has been carried

out at most sites is not always adequate to locate European artifacts

even if they were present. Indeed, it is remarkable that there exists as

much tangible evidence of the early European presence, direct and

indirect, in the interior Southeast as there does. Nonetheless, circum-

stances require that only those sites which have produced European goods

be used, since other sites lack the necessary chronological control.

Here again the Wallace Reservoir data are important as a check.

While sites which produced European artifacts were scarce in the Wallace

Reservoir, stratigraphic excavation and seriation techniques have

allowed the construction of a fairly tight chronological sequence of

native ceramics in the area. Thus the interpretation of the Wallace

Reservoir data is based on chronological control provided by aboriginal

ceramics rather than on the chance recovery of European artifacts.

It is possible to differentiate sixteenth century sites from seven-

teenth century sites with a great deal of confidence. The Wallace

Reservoir data are drawn from all sites, from mound centers to special-

ized extractive sites (Shapiro 1983). These Wallace Reservoir data,

then, provide a check for those data based on sites with European

artifacts from the other drainages. This is an important methodologi-

cal point. If both sets of data indicate that similar processes were

taking place, then we can be more confident of the interpretations


Chapter V, "The Fall of Chiefdoms," discusses the collapse of

the elaborate polities of the sixteenth century into the tribal groups

encountered by European explorers of the late seventeenth and early

eighteenth centuries. Again, historical evidence is recounted which

supports such a collapse. Then the archaeological evidence is developed.

Several archaeological characteristics of chiefdoms have been described

by Peebles and Kus (1977) and the disappearance of these parameters will

be used to document the loss of chiefly organization caused by depopu-

lation and to show the timing of the political collapse. Specific

measures to be employed include the end of construction of public works

such as mounds and palisades, the disappearance of elaborate hierarchies

of sites in a complex settlement plan, the end of support of part-time

craft specialists and the accompanying long-distance trade networks, and

the end of elaborate burial ritual signifying an ascribed status system.

It is hypothesized that all of these characteristics disappeared during

the early historic period. It remains to be thoroughly demonstrated

with data from the study area that these traits did indeed disappear

and to document the rate of their disappearance. Again, it is suggested

that disappearance was rapid. These hypotheses about the decline of

chiefdoms and tests of the hypotheses are presented in more detail in

Chapter V. Collapse of chiefly organization is shown to coincide with

the demographic collapse discussed in Chapter IV.

Chapter VI examines the question of acculturation. After looking

at various ethnological definitions of acculturation, several archaeo-

logical schemes for the measurement of acculturation devised by John

White (1975), Ian Brown (1979a,1979b), and Jeffrey Brain (1979) are

discussed. The archaeological data for the early historic period sites

in the study area are applied to these models. It is argued that while

drastic culture change took place in the study area during the early

historic period, this change was not acculturation in the sense of the

term as used by George Foster (1960).

The next chapter, "The Aftermath," summarizes the changes that

took place during the early historic period, and examines the results

of these changes. It is argued that vast population movements which

took place near the end of the early historic period were the result of

the introduction of firearms to the southeastern Indians, as well as the

movement into the Southeast of Indian groups from outside the area.

Using historical and archaeological evidence, it is argued that the

Creek Confederacy was formed in the late seventeenth century as an

aboriginal response to new pressures from Europeans and foreign Indian


groups. The deerskin economy and trade in Indian slaves centered in

Virginia and particularly Charles Towne began a period of great culture

change, including the beginnings of true acculturation. Historical and

archaeological evidence for changes are discussed and an archaeological

measure for the recognition of the founding of the Creek Confederacy is

examined. John Swanton's views on the early location of several Creek

groups are challenged. The final chapter examines the thesis in light

of the data presented, and it provides a summary of conclusions and

ideas for future research.


The historic period in the interior Southeast began with

explorations by Hernando de Soto in 1540. This was an historic period

in the true sense of the word. There are four eyewitness accounts of

the Southeast: Ranjel (Bourne 1922), Biedma (Smith 1968), A Gentleman

of Elvas (Smith 1968), and the recently located CaHete account. Ranjel,

De Soto's secretary, gives the most exacting account, while the Elvas

account contains much detail. The Biedma account is short and lacks

detail, but provides interesting information. Biedma was the King's

Factor on the expedition and his account was his official report to the

King. The Canete account, or rather a synopsis of that account, was

recently discovered by Eugene Lyon. This short document contains

additional information about the Indians of the Southeast. Finally,

there is the history of the expedition written by Garcilaso de la Vega

some 50 years later (Varner and Varner 1951). Garcilaso interviewed

participants in the expedition and wrote an account of incredible detail.

While the Garcilaso account is over-embellished, it does provide much

detail on the Southeast of the sixteenth century.

The De Soto expedition is important for several reasons. De

Soto saw a Southeast never again seen (Hudson 1980). He saw southeastern

chiefdoms while they were fully functional. He also saw many different

southeastern cultures. The Southeast is a diverse region and De Soto

observed and recorded much of it as he trekked from Florida to New Mexico.


De Soto's primary goal was to obtain wealth in the form of

precious metals. He searched near and far and high and low (literally

as he entered both the Appalachian and Ozark mountains). He hoped to

find a second Mexico or Peru, but his efforts failed and he died on

the Mississippi River.

Later the expedition of Tristan de Luna entered the study area

with another motive. Luna had come to the Southeast in 1559 to colonize,

bringing families of Mexican farmers instead of a massive military

force. Luna was to set up colonies on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts

and establish communications overland between these areas (Priestly

1928). While the Luna expedition was excellently prepared to meet

these goals, it was foiled by a storm which wrecked several vessels

before they could be unloaded. With most of the food supplies lost,

the colonists faced starvation. Most of Luna's force moved inland to

the Indian town of Nanipacana. When food grew short there, another

group headed north to Coosa. Luna's force included several veterans

of the De Soto expedition and they remembered Coosa as a fertile place

(Hudson, Smith, Hally, Polhemus, .and DePratter 1983). When they

arrived at Coosa, they were disappointed, but were well fed. In return

for food, the people of Coosa asked the Spaniards to help them with a

dispute with their neighbors the Napochies, who refused to pay tribute.

A large force consisting of the Coosa warriors and Spanish allies set

out to the Napochie towns, which they quickly brought under control.

The flow of tribute to Coosa was restored. Later the Spaniards left

Coosa to return south to their main force. Meanwhile Luna's command was

falling apart, and by 1561 the entire colony was rescued and returned

to New Spain.

The Luna attempt was important because it gives us a glimpse

of the interior in the aftermath of the De Soto expedition. In the

intervening 20 years, Coosa had lost some of its size and glory and it

was having trouble collecting tribute from one of its nearest neighbors.

It does appear that Coosa of 1560 was still in its 1540 location

(Hudson, Smith, Hally, Polhemus, and DePratter 1983). Coosa had no

doubt lost population to European disease, but the population had

apparently stabilized in the period between De Soto and Luna. The Luna

accounts do give us some idea of the location of named groups at ca.


The last major expedition into the study area during the six-

teenth century was led by Captain Juan Pardo. Pardo actually made two

trips into the interior from 1566-1568 (DePratter, Hudson, and Smith

1983), setting out from the newly founded settlement of Santa Elena,

located on the present Parris Island, South Carolina (South 1980).

There were multiple motives for the Pardo expeditions. Most prag-

matically, there was a shortage of food in the new colony and Pardo's

men were sent out to live off the land. Secondly, Pardo was sent to

discover an overland route to Zacatecas, Mexico.

Unlike the earlier De Soto and Luna expeditions, Pardo's force

had no horses. While it was a purely military force, Pardo's expedition

was given specific orders not to upset the local Indian populations.

Indeed, Pardo was given large quantities of trade goods to distribute

to the Indians to secure political alliances and food for his troops

(DePratter and Smith 1980).

Marching into the interior of South Carolina, Pardo soon came

upon the same route taken by Hernando de Soto approximately 30 years

earlier. Again Pardo appears to have gone to the exact same towns in

the same locations visited by De Soto (DePratter, Hudson, and Smith

1983). He marched through present South Carolina, North Carolina,

Tennessee, and some of his force apparently reached Coosa in northwest-

ern Georgia.

The Pardo expedition is extremely important in helping to

locate aboriginal groups in the Southeast. Pardo had a scribe, Juan de

la Bandera, who recorded excellent information on the location of Indian

groups. It is through the Pardo expedition that we are able to recon-

struct much of the route of De Soto. The Bandera document has become a

key to unlocking the sixteenth century Southeast.

Using information from these exploration accounts, the distri-

bution of southeastern chiefdoms in the mid-sixteenth century can be

reconstructed. Using an ethnohistoric archaeological approach (Brain et

al. 1974) combining data from the accounts with archaeological data such

as settlement distribution and the distribution of European trade items,

sixteenth century chiefdoms can be located with some degree of accuracy.

What was the sixteenth century southeast? Charles Hudson

(1980) has characterized it as an "unknown South"-a time of flourishing

complex chiefdoms, large towns, dense populations, high levels of mili-

tary organization, complex religion, and elites marked by sumptuary rules.

The Southeast described by the early Spanish explorers was a far cry

from that described by later explorers of the late seventeenth and

eighteenth centuries. By that time, the large populations had been

reduced by disease, the chiefdoms had been reduced to tribal or town

units, some of which were beginning to form confederacies. Patterns

of warfare were changing as firearms were introduced and the English

demand for slaves increased (Perdue 1979; Wright 1981). The problem

becomes one of filling in the gap-explaining the processes that trans-

formed the Southeast of the sixteenth century to that of the eighteenth.

The first step is to understand the political organization of

the Southeast at the time of initial contact. At this time, the study

area was made up of several complex chiefdoms and perhaps a few simpler

ones. Complex chiefdoms are made up of two or three tiers of politi-

cal hierarchy (Steponaitis 1978). A good example of such a polity in

the study area known from archaeology is the "Great Oconee Province"

described by Smith and Kowalewski (1980). The Oconee Province settle-

ment hierarchy consists of a capital with five mounds (Shoulderbone

mound group), three multiple mound sites (Shinholser, Scull Shoals,

and Little River), at least two single mound centers (Dyar and 9Ge35),

and countless villages, hamlets, and special purpose sites (see Shapiro

1983; Rudolph and Blanton 1980). The settlement density of this

"province" is impressive and there seems to be a large, unoccupied

buffer zone surrounding the province. Recent work on the route of

Hernando de Soto (Hudson, Smith, and DePratter 1980) has identified this

province as the Ocute mentioned in the DeSotonarratives. Thus the

Shoulderbone site is the principal town of Ocute, Scull Shoals may be

the town of Potofa, and Shinholser appears to be the Altamaha of the


The analysis of the routes of Hernando de Soto, Tristan de Luna,

and Juan Pardo have allowed us to locate many of the towns mentioned in

the exploration narratives. By using descriptions, travel times, and

distances in the narratives and combining these data with archaeological

evidence of contemporary Indian sites (based on ceramic seriations

and/or presence of diagnostic European material), we have been able to

locate many sixteenth century Indian polities (Hudson, Smith, and

DePratter 1980; DePratter, Hudson, and Smith 1983,1984; Hudson, Smith,

Hally, Polhemus, and DePratter 1983). These locations are shown in

Figure 2. Named towns of the narratives which can confidently be

associated with archaeological sites are listed in Table 1. These

identifications provide the baseline for looking at population decline

and movement in the subsequent century, and political restructuring.

For example, the narratives frequently identify the political alliances

of the various towns. Again there is evidence of multiple levels of

political organization between the various towns in the chiefdoms. A

small village may be said to be under a larger village which is in turn

under yet another principal town of a chiefdom. These political rela-

tionships are tabulated in Table 2.

As previously stated, the study area was virtually terra

incognita from 1568-1673. Only one expedition appears to have actually

entered the study area during that time, while two others visited the

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Table 2. Sixteenth century political relationships according to the De
Soto, Luna, and Pardo narratives

Chiefdom/Head Town Subject Towns Subject Villages

Ichisi (R) Two villages (R)
Ocute (R) ) Altamaha (R)
Altamaha (B)
?Cofaqui (R)
?Tatofa (R)
Patofa (E), a province at
peace with Ocute
Chisca (R,E,P)
Chiaha (E)/Olamico (P) Chiaha (R,B)

Coste (B) Coste (R)
Tali (R)
Six days travel through towns
subject to Coosa (E)
Tasqui (R)
Napochies (L)
Coosa (R,E) Numerous towns of Coosa (E)
Talimachusy (R,E)
Itaba (R) or Ytaua (E)
S Ulibahali (R) --- Small villages subject to U. (R)
Ulibihali (E)
Tuasi (R) or Toasi (E)
Old village with palisade
Talisi (G)
Onachiqui (L)
Talisi (E) Talisi (R) Towns subject to Talisi (E)
Italisi (B) Casiste (R)
Tascaluca/Athahachi (R,B)---Caxiti (L)
SCaxa (R)
Humati (R)
Uxapita (R)
Piachi (R)
Mabila (R,E,B)

Note: P = Pardo; E = Elvas; R = Ranjel; B = Biedma; G = Garcilaso; L = Luna.

interior on the margins of the study area. These expeditions are poorly

known, but require discussion.

In 1596, a soldier named Gaspar de Salas and two Franciscan

fathers, Pedro Fernandez de Chosas and Francisco de Veras, left Guale

(St. Catherines Island) for the interior (Swanton 1922:181-182,176).

In testimony given four years later, Salas reported the expedition.

Leaving St. Catherines Island, the three reached Tama by traveling

eight days, the first seven of which were through deserted land. Tama

was no doubt the Altamaha of the De Soto relations (Swanton 1946:208).

Salas leaves no doubt that they had reached the Piedmont. ". . there

is very good brown soil, which, when it rains, clings to one's feet

like marl. There are in certain regions many barren hills where he

saw many kinds of minerals" (in Swanton 1922:182). This is clearly a

description of Georgia red clay and piedmont mineral resources. The

straight line distance from St. Catherines Island to the presumed site

of Altamaha of the De Soto period, the Shinholser Mound site near

Milledgeville, Georgia, is 155 miles. It is certainly possible that

three men traveling lightly could make the necessary twenty miles per

day. From Tama, the party continued inland one day to Ocute (it took

the De Soto expedition one day and part of a second, but they traveled

about fifteen miles per day (DePratter, Hudson, Smith 1984). Thus it

appears likely that Ocute was still in the same general area as De Soto

found it, perhaps still at the Shoulderbone site. The cacique of Ocute

convinced them that it would be dangerous to continue and the party

returned via a different route to the coast.

Later in 1606, the chief of Tama traveled to Sapelo Island to

meet with Governor Ibarra (Swanton 1922:182). Thus there was at least

two documented cases of occasions when European presents were probably

given to the Indians of the Province of Ocute around the turn of the

century. Indeed, European artifacts of this period have been found at

two archaeological sites in the area, site 9Ge948 (Smith 1979a) and the

Joe Bell site (Williams 1983a). Both sites produced glass beads and the

Joe Bell site also produced peach pits.

In 1628, Pedro de Torres visited Cofitachiqui (Swanton 1922:220),

believed to be located near the present Camden, South Carolina (DePratter,

Hudson, and Smith 1983). Almost nothing is known of this expedition.

Torres noted that the area was rich in pearls and that all the chiefs in

the area were politically aligned under the chief of Cofitachiqui. While

Cofitachiqui is east of the present study area, it is in the interior

on the fall line and it serves to show the extent of Spanish influence

in the interior. This will be discussed further when early English

penetration into the interior is considered.

One final Spanish expedition into the interior of the Southeast

to the west of the study area remains to be discussed. This is the

expedition of Captain Alonzo Baca in 1634 (Thomas 1982:33-34). Baca

set out from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and headed east with some soldiers,

eventually reaching the "Great River." Thomas identifies this river as

the Mississippi. The Baca party did not cross the Great River, but

returned to New Mexico. The directions given in the Baca account are

vague and the identification of the "Great River" with the Mississippi

cannot be considered proven, yet the possibility remains that this

expedition had some effect on the Southeast.

There are no documented entradas into the study area after the

Salas expedition of 1596 until the founding of Charles Towne in 1670.

This does not mean that a great deal of Spanish activity was not taking

place around the periphery of the area. The Spanish mission system was

spreading all along the Georgia coast (Lanning 1935) and through

northern Florida (Gannon 1965a;Geiger 1937). Intensive missionary

activity began among the Potano of north central Florida in 1600 and a

permanent mission was established in 1606 (Milanich 1978:78). By 1633,

missions were established in the Apalachee country of the present Leon

and Jefferson counties of Florida (Boyd, Smith, and Griffin 1951). As

Spanish influence spread throughout the northern Florida and coastal

Georgia areas, the Indians of the interior were undoubtedly affected.

These effects are plainly seen when we next get glimpses of the interior

from the English and French in the 1670s.

In 1670 when the English first reached Cofitachiqui in the

interior of South Carolina (Baker 1974), it was still a very important

political unit. A letter from William Owen to Lord Ashley in September

of 1670, gives clear indication that the natives of Cofitachiqui were

acquainted with the Spaniards. They told Owen of a land to the west,

with bells ad friars, which he interpreted as being the Spaniards. They

also mentioned people to the north who rode upon great deer (horses)

which Owen interpreted as Virginians (Baker 1974:IV-4). Clearly, they

were acquainted with Europeans.

Later, in 1673, when the Virginia traders James Needham and

Gabriel Arthur penetrated the Tennessee Valley, they reported that the

natives (Cherokee) were well equipped with European commodities

(Williams 1928:29). They were armed with about 60 guns, which were not

of English make and they had brass pots and kettles. From Tennessee,

Gabriel Arthur traveled with the Cherokee down to the South Carolina

coast where he saw Spaniards (Williams 1928:34). This would indicate

that the Cherokees were quite familiar with the Spaniards. However, it

should be noted that the guns and kettles were probably not Spanish

trade goods. The guns might have been from French or Dutch sources in

the Great Lakes area, or perhaps they really were of English make, and

Arthur's denial was simply a political expedient.

Almost simultaneously, the French were entering the lower

Mississippi Valley from the Great Lakes region. Again, we have reports

of European trade items arriving ahead of the explorers at the periphery

of the study area. At a point below the confluence of the Ohio and

Mississippi rivers, Marquette and Joliet reported meeting an Indian

group armed with muskets and posessing other European goods such as

axes, hoes, knives, beads, and glass bottles (Sauer 1980:139,141).

These Indians said that the goods were obtained from Europeans on the

coast some ten days away. Among the Arkansas, watermelons were grown

(Sauer 1980:141).

In 1682, when LaSalle returned to explore the lower Mississippi,

he reported peaches and chickens at the Arkansas villages at the mouth

of the Arkansas River. Further south LaSalle reports that the Taensas

had shields of yellow copper in the chief's house and the chief had

attendants who preceded him "carrying a sheet and round plaque of

copper" (Sauer 1980:154). The "yellow copper" sounds like European

brass, but the "sheet and round plaque" might be native copper.

Sauer (1980:241-243) produces adequate evidence that peaches,

watermelons, and chickens were doubtlessly obtained from the Spaniards

in the Southwest. He says specifically of the watermelon, "It was

taken from one farming people to another ahead of Spanish advance"

(Sauer 1980:241). If such European foods and other trade goods, includ-

ing muskets, had reached the lower Mississippi Valley, perhaps from the

Southwest, then there is little doubt that such items could just as

easily have reached the study area of the interior Southeast from the

relatively nearby settlements in northern Florida and the Atlantic


When LaSalle attempted to establish a colony on the Gulf coast

in 1684, the Spaniards responded by sending Marcos Delgado into the

interior to investigate (Boyd 1937). Marcos Delgado provides us with

the first glimpse of the southern portion of the study area since Tristan

de Luna in 1560. Delgado departed from San Luis (near present Talla-

hassee) and traveled to the northwest to the lower Tallapoosa-Coosa river

area. He mentions the Tiquipache (identified by Boyd as the Tuckabatchee;

Boyd's identifications are placed in parentheses below) and other

groups known to be in the area in the eighteenth century. More

importantly, he mentions several groups that had fled from the north

"because of persecution from the English and Chichimecas and another

nation called Chalaque (Cherokee). These groups include the Qusate

(Koasati), the Pagna, the Qulasa of the Province of Pagna Nation, and

the Tubani of the Qusate Nation and the village of Tuave which is a

village of Cosate (Koasati)." It is unclear how long these people had

been present in the Coosa-Tallapoosa confluence area, but Delgado men-

tions the "five (chiefs or groups) that are settled and settling after

fleeing from the English to the north" (Boyd 1937:21). The fact that

some of the refugee groups were still settling suggests a recent

arrival. This is a question for archaeological research.

The mention of the English to the north as well as the Cherokee

and the Chichimecas (identified by Boyd as the Yuchi, following Swanton)

suggests that pressure was coming from native groups in the northern end

of the Ridge and Valley Province. It is even possible that the

Chichimecas were the displaced Erie who later appear on the Savannah

River as the Westo (Crane in Swanton 1922:291). Since the date of the

inception of this pressure is unknown, it is useless to speculate. The

Indian slave trade did not really begin until after the founding of

Charles Towne (Wright 1981), so it is quite possible that these movements

were post-1670 in origin. Delgado makes no reference to a Creek Con-

federacy and indeed its existence as late as 1700 has been questioned

(Knight and Adams 1981:48). With this briefly accounted historical

background as a basis, the next chapter will establish temporal divisions

for the early historic period.


In order to measure culture change in situations where historic

documentation is lacking, it is necessary to establish chronologies

based on stylistic changes in various archaeologically recovered material

categories. The study of European introduced trade goods has been

chosen in this case for several reasons. They were mass produced in

Europe for trade all over the world and thus certain diagnostic artifacts

can be used as horizon markers over broad areas. When this situation of

worldwide utility is contrasted with the restricted utility of seriating

local native manufactures such as pottery, the results can provide a

means of chronological placement for otherwise undated material. For

example, the area chosen for study in this research includes several

regional ceramic style areas; yet European goods, coming primarily from

Spanish sources, remain constant (by temporal unit) across the area.

Since these European materials were used in a wide area of the world,

they have another advantage. They are more likely to have been found

on archaeological sites with historically documented dates of occupation

than the more geographically restricted native products. Thus, for

example, glass bead varieties found at the site of Nueva Cadiz, Venezuela,

a site of known occupation span, can be used to crossdate Indian sites

in the Southeast where they are found.

Research on Euorpean trade goods extends back to the 1930s

(Woodward 1932; Brannon 1935). Arthur Woodward was the first person to

seriously consider stylistic change in trade goods as a means of

chronological placement for archaeological sites. Kenneth Kidd (1954)

advocated searching documents for references to goods manufactured for

trade with primitive cultures. He hoped to be able to establish dates

of manufacture. Unfortunately, this method has so far proven fruitless,

at least for the early period studied in this work. The method

typically employed is the comparative method. Either goods from sites

of known date are compared with those from undated sites, or seriations

based on stylistic changes are established. These two techniques are

not necessarily mutually exclusive. A methodology developed over the

years in the Northeast of North America should be considered. This will

be called the "Iroquois Method" for purposes of discussion. This method

as used in the Northeast seeks to arrange contact period aboriginal sites

in chronological order by studying the relative frequency of the occur-

rence of European trade items compared with items of native manufacture.

Either midden deposits or grave goods can be seriated in this manner.

Sites with high frequencies of aboriginal manufactured goods and low

frequencies of introduced European goods are believed to be early con-

tact sites, while over time the frequency of imported European items

increases and the frequency of native manufactured items decreases.

Once a series of sites is seriated, absolute calendrical dates are

assigned based upon a number of factors: approximations of length of

occupation of sites based on the amount of accumulated midden or rebuild-

ing of structures, and when possible, tying the sequence to historically

dated events, such as visits of Europeans, first evidence of missionary

influence, etc. This methodology has been successfully applied to many

groups, including the Seneca (Wray and Schoff 1953; Wray 1973), Oneida

(Pratt 1976), and Onondaga (Bradley 1979). Recently William Fitzgerald

has further refined this method by assigning absolute dates to the

relatively dated series of historic Neutral Iroquois sites. He examines

changes in trading companies in Europe and coordinates these changes

with abrupt changes in European trade items found in Neutral sites

(Fitzgerald 1982:41-44). This "Iroquois Methodology" has established

estimated dates for several archaeological sites in the Northeast. While

the actual calendrical dates for each site may be questioned, there is

no doubt that the sites are correctly dated in a relative fashion, and

there is little doubt that the dates assigned vary only slightly, if at

all, from the actual occupation dates. Thus these sites in the Northeast

provide an abundance of well-dated European trade material for cross-

dating sites in the Southeast. The Iroquois Method also provides a

useful model for the relative dating of aboriginal sites in the South-

east, if certain historical factors are considered.

In the Northeast, there was an almost constant demand for furs

by Europeans. In 1524, Verrazzano found a native group in present Maine

already experienced traders (Sauer 1971:61). From then on, European

demand for furs increased and more and more European goods entered the

native economy.

European contacts in the Southeast differed. The earliest

contacts were usually for the slave trade-Native Americans were cap-

tured and shipped to the Caribbean (Wright 1981:129-131). Few European

goods reached Indian hands in this manner, but shipwrecks along the

coast of Florida did provide European goods to enterprising Indian

salvors, and to Indians who ransomed European shipwreck victims back

to other Europeans. Early coastal colonizing efforts, such as those

by Juan Ponce de Le6n (1521) and Lucas V6zquez de Ayll6n (1526)

undoubtedly spread European goods into the Southeast, but these must

have been scarce. Later expeditions, such as those of Hernando de Soto

in 1539-1543 (Swanton 1939) and Juan Pardo in 1567-1568 (DePratter and

Smith 1980) are known to have spread European goods by trading them

directly into the interior. Nevertheless, until the founding of Charles

Towne in 1670, there was no regular trade for furs or deerskins with the

interior of the Southeast, and European goods must have been fairly

rare. It must be considered possible that Indian groups contacted by

De Soto and Pardo may have obtained more European goods than their imme-

diate descendants. Thus archaeological sites in the interior of the

period 1540-1570 may potentially have more European goods than slightly

more recent sites. The "Iroquois Method" must be used with caution in

the Southeast. Despite these potential hazards, there does seem to be

a fairly steady increase in the amounts of European items reaching the

Indians of the interior Southeast. This point will be considered in

more detail below.

Before moving on to consider specific European trade items that

are chronologically sensitive, it is necessary to consider the mechanisms

by which these items entered the aboriginal economy. Two basic mechan-

isms must be considered: direct trade by Europeans and indirect trade

through native middlemen. Aboriginal trade was widespread throughout

the Southeast in precontact times (Swanton 1946:736; Hudson 1976:313;

Goad 1978; Walthall 1981); and it is quite probable that European items

reached Indian groups in the interior long before the expedition of

Hernando de Soto. Indeed, members of the De Soto expedition reported

finding European beads and axes in the mortuary temple at Talomeco

(Bourne 1922:100); they attributed these items to the Ayll6n colony of

1526. Ayll6n remained on the coast, yet Talomeco is now believed to be

in the South Carolina piedmont near the present town of Camden (Hudson,

Smith, and DePratter 1980). A well-organized trade in marine shell had

existed throughout the Southeast since the late Archaic and it is likely

that European items, probably viewed as exotic status symbols by the

natives, rapidly entered this network (Smith 1975). Portentially

European items could be found anywhere in the Southeast shortly after

coastal contacts began. At first these items were probably controlled

by the elite as sociotechnic items (Smith 1977:153).

Recently Mary Helms has proposed a model of chiefly trade in

Panama (1979). In this model, members of the elite, usually those

destined to become chiefs under a system of ascribed status, went on

long journeys to obtain esoteric knowledge. With the control of such

knowledge, they were able to validate their status as chiefs. When

they went on these quests, they obtained exotic goods to serve as

tangible displays of their new esoteric knowledge. Thus, trade in in-

formation and elite goods may have taken place via a few people moving

long distances, either to the coast, perhaps accounting for the goods

that De Soto saw at Talomeco, or long distances in the interior to see

firsthand the European invaders. In connection with this latter possi-

bility, it should be noted that Juan de la Bandera, scribe of the Juan

Pardo expedition of 1568, reports that chiefs came from long distances

to see Pardo and receive gifts (DePratter and Smith 1980:71). Using

this model, it is possible to suggest that European goods spread quickly

throughout the Southeast in the sixteenth century, while remaining in

the hands of the elite. Visits to the coast to Spanish and French

settlements of the sixteenth century by interior Indians may have been

commonplace. This model of trade could account for the spread of

European goods long distances and in places not directly contacted by


Direct trade by Europeans also introduced many European objects.

The U.S. DeSoto Expedition Commission prepared a list of European items

given to Indians (Swanton 1939:55). The later expedition of Juan Pardo

also gave away many European objects, especially chisels, wedges, axes,

cloth, and necklaces (DePratter and Smith 1980). De Soto and Pardo

traveled directly to the largest settlements that they could find,

searching for wealth, food, and political alliance. Since these were

the main towns of powerful chiefs, who no doubt controlled trade in

elite status goods (probably including European items), it might be

assumed that European items would be concentrated directly along the

line of march of these expeditions. This is not necessarily the case.

During the Pardo expedition of 1568, the scribe, Juan de la Bandera,

reports that Indian political leaders came great distances to see Pardo

and receive gifts (DePratter and Smith 1980:71). It is also likely

that Tristan de Luna, in his colonizing effort, distributed many

European items. While many of his stores were lost on the coast, Luna

no doubt bartered everything that he had when starvation set in. Thus

Luna may have traded items which were not the usual Indian trade goods.

What happened to all this European material? Elsewhere it was

suggested that European items were considered wealth items (elite status

goods) and were rapidly taken out of circulation. The best evidence

for this is the mortuary deposit of Talomeco found by De Soto. European

items were buried in the mortuary temple (presumably as grave goods)

less than fifteen years after their arrival on the coast via the Ayll6n

expedition of 1526 (Smith 1976:28). European objects at the King site

in northwestern Georgia appear with burials usually also accompanied

by exotic aboriginal artifacts, again suggesting their role as socio-

technic status markers (Smith 1975; see further discussion in Chapter V).

Thus on the earliest sites, it appears likely that European material

was quickly consumed as grave goods and thus should be excellent chron-

ological markers. There is no evidence suggesting heirlooming of this


Evidence from the Pardo expedition of 1568 also suggests that

the aboriginal elite were still in control of exotic European goods.

The Pardo expedition left detailed records of the distribution of trade

items. These were invariably given to chiefs, "commanders" (war chiefs?),

and "principal men" (DePratter and Smith 1980:70). The only possible

exception to elite control of European items was gifts to translators

whose social status is unknown.

However, by about 1600, there appears to be a real change in

the distribution of trade material. Trade material is much more

abundant and does not appear to be restricted to elite burials (Smith

1977:157). This change is hypothesized as reflecting the breakdown of

powerful chiefdoms. Apparently achieved status systems were replacing

ascribed status systems at least this early. European items were

becoming abundant and no longer served sociotechnic functions. Iron

axes,once considered elite status symbols much as the earlier copper

axes, were increasingly being utilized and worn out. This hypothesis

will be considered further below. It is also possible that as this

breakdown was taking place, some heirlooming of European goods may

have taken place.

The possibility of heirlooming is an important factor to be con-

sidered when using European artifacts as dating devices. Evidence has

been presented that during the mid-sixteenth century, European goods

were quickly consumed as high status grave goods, but during the seven-

teenth century, this may no longer have been the case. Thus it is

important to look at the total assemblage of European material at any

given archaeological site. It will be argued below that certain arti-

facts can act as "index fossils" for certain time periods, but it is

always important to consider the total assemblage before assigning a

date. Any artifact supplying an accurate terminus post quem for an

assemblage must be heavily weighed When dates are assigned.

Dating the Artifacts

The following section will discuss glass beads, brass ornaments,

iron axes, miscellaneous hardware, and firearms. These artifact classes

will then be arranged in hypothesized assemblages which will be assigned

approximate calendrical ranges. This chronology will be used to

measure culture change for the discussions in the remainder of this

study. Four temporal stages will be assigned; these represent a refine-

ment of earlier attempts (Smith 1976,1977). Much reliance is placed on

the previous seriation of Cossa river sites which relied heavily upon

comparisons with trade material in the Northeast United States (Smith

1977). The methodology of seriating historic sites in a relatively

small area has worked quite well for Iroquois sites and the initial

attempt at seriating sites along the Coosa River drainage in Alabama and

Georgia (Smith 1977) appeared successful. More evidence is now at hand

to further refine that chronology. Archaeological sites discussed in

the text are illustrated in Figure 3.

In the earlier attempt, archaeological sites were broken down

into the periods 1540-1570, 1570-1600, 1600-1630, and 1630-1670 (Smith

1977). The type site for the early period was the King Site (Hally

1975; Smith 1975). Recently clearing operations at the site revealed

a sword in a burial which was exposed by collectors. An avid student

archaeologist, Keith Little, found out about the discovery and began

research to identify and preserve this important find. Through his

efforts, the sword is now on loan to the Etowah Indian Mounds Museum and

it has been identified by Dr. Helmut Nickel of the Metropolitan Museum

Figure 3. Location of archaeological sites

of Art as being of the mid-sixteenth century (Keith Little, personal

communication). Thus the early end of the seriation is given a firm


The 1570-1600 period in the 1977 formulation was represented by

only one site: Terrapin Creek, 1Ce310. This site was quite similar to

the subsequent occupation at the nearby Bradford Ferry site, with

estimated occupation span of 1600-1630. Later research by Keith Little

and Cailup Curren (1981) located a site, 1Ce308, with an assemblage of

trade goods clearly intermediate between that of the King site and the

Terrapin Creek site. It is entirely possible that the Ce308 site,

Terrapin Creek (just downstream from Ce308) and the nearby Bradford

Ferry site all form a continuum of occupation by one group. The sug-

gested dating sequence for the Coosa River is now King (1540-1570),

Ce308 (1570-1590), Terrapin Creek (1590-1600), Bradford Ferry (1600-

1630), Cooper Farm (1630-1670), and finally Woods Island (1670-1700;

reported by Morrell 1965). These dates of occupation were based on

comparisons of European artifacts with those from sites with estimated

occupation dates in the Northeast (Smith 1977) and on the knowledge

from excavacated sites such as King and Bradford Ferry that the sites

appear to be of short duration. This sequence forms the basis of com-

parison for trade good assemblages from other areas of the interior


Glass Beads

Earlier research on trade goods has resulted in the presentation

of a seriation study of glass beads from sites of the period 1513-1670

(Smith 1984). This section is based largely on that research, which

will not be presented in detail. Table 3 lists glass beads believed

to be temporally diagnostic. The reader is referred to Smith (1984)

for illustrations of these beads. Using glass beads, four periods,

roughly dated 1513-1560, 1560-1600, 1600-1630, and 1630-1670 can be


The period 1513-1560 bead assemblage is made up primarily of

long tubular Nueva Cadiz beads and faceted chevron beads (Fairbanks

1968). Several additional types are present (see Smith and Good 1982,

for descriptions and color illustrations of beads diagnostic of this

period). The subsequent period, 1560-1600, sees the disappearance

of the long tubular Nueva Cadiz types, which are replaced by spherical

tumbled beads-especially turquoise blue, transparent medium blue,

translucent green, and navy blue beads. Faceted chevron beads are

still common and some striped spherical beads appear. A few short

varieties of the Nueva Cadiz style persist and a few eye beads appear

(Smith 1982). Beads of cut crystal (Fairbanks 1968) and amber also

occur in contexts suggesting late sixteenth century placement (Smith

1984). Tumbled purple glass beads also occur.

The period 1600-1630 is characterized by a new style of chevron

bead. The chevron bead with ground facets is replaced by a spherical,

rounded chevron with green or blue exterior. Eye beads are most common

during this period. This represents a change from an earlier assertion

that eye beads primarily date to the last quarter of the sixteenth

century (Smith 1982). New evidence from the Northeast (Kenyon and

Table 3. Estimated date ranges for selected bead types

C U1 C U1 CD Ti CM M c
on V D On oC Ln D Ln

Large Nueva Cadiz

Small Nueva Cadiz

Faceted chevrons

Florida cut crystal

Tumbled purple

Blue with red and white stripes

Eye beads

Tumbled chevrons

Turquoise blue tumbled

Amber beads


Turquoise blue with white stripes

Tumbled three-layer necklace bead

Translucent medium blue

Kenyon 1984; Fitzgerald 1982) suggests that they last into the first

third of the seventeenth century and an eye bead from the post-1606

mission of San Francisco de Potano (Florida State Museum collections;

Smith 1984) substantiates a seventeenth century placement in the South-

east. Eye beads are not known from the Apalachee missions established

in 1633, so that terminal date is still considered valid. Other beads

diagnostic of this period are tumbled compound beads of three layers,

tumbled navy blue beads with red and white stripes and turquoise blue

beads with three or four white stripes. Seed beads are commonly of

compound construction.

There appear to be no glass bead types diagnostic of the period

1630-1670. Indeed, the period is remarkably free of polychrome beads.

The most common beads are the common turquoise blue necklace bead, the

navy blue necklace bead, and seed beads of several varieties. Eye

beads disappear and chevron beads are unknown from the interior, but

are found on Apalachee missions in Florida postdating 1633. A few

sites produce occasional necklace beads of types that appear to be

manufactured in Holland (Karklins 1974; Bradley personal communication).

They are common in the Northeast during the first half of the seven-

teenth century. These beads probably indicate indirect trade with

English colonies to the northeast. Some of these same sites produce

an occasional gun part, further suggesting indirect English contact.

Iron Axes and Knives

Iron axes and knives were always important trade items. Mem-

bers of the De Soto expedition reported finding "Biscayan hatchets" in

the mortuary temple at Talomeco (Bourne 1922) and an iron dagger near

the fall line in Alabama (Smith 1968:242) documenting that iron tools

were being obtained by aboriginal groups of the interior Southeast

prior to 1540. De Soto himself distributed iron implements (Swanton

1939:55) and Juan Pardo is known to have traded some 61 chisels, 77

wedges, 72 hatchets, and 30 knives (DePratter and Smith 1980:71) in

1568. It is likely that more iron material reached the interior via

aboriginal trade with sporadic European coastal visitors and, after

1565, with Spanish colonies such as St. Augustine and Santa Elena.

Later the expanding Spanish mission system probably supplied some

European goods into aboriginal exchange systems. Finally, the two

little known expeditions into the interior undoubtedly carried

additional goods. In 1596 a small group of missionaries visited Ocute

and in 1528 Pedro de Torres visited Cofitachiqui (Swanton 1946:143).

Iron hatchets and Biscayan axes were probably small,eyed axe

forms (DePratter and Smith 1980) while chisels and wedges were small,

celt-like blades, probably manufactured for the Indian trade. These

celt blades readily replaced the stone celts of native manufacture

and probably also replaced the sociotechnic native copper axes. The

De Soto expedition saw numerous copper axes at Cofitachiqui (Varner

and Varner 1951:321), but they have not been found on contact period

archaeological sites. Iron chisels quickly replaced them as status

display items, judging from the fact that they have been found in high

status burials and also from the fact that Pardo only gave out axes

and chisels to high ranking natives.

Eyed axe forms are quite rare on archaeological sites of

the interior predating 1630. The one exception is a small hatchet

from the Seven Springs site (1CelOl) on the Coosa River in Alabama

(DeJarnette et al. 1973; Smith 1977). Eyed axe forms are more common

after 1630, but even through 1670, celt form iron axes are preferred.

Fleming and Walthall (1978:31-32) present evidence that eyed axes

were modified by native craftsmen to produce two iron celts-one from

the axe blade and one from the eye which was flattened and sharpened.

The scarcity of eyed iron axes on archaeological sites prior to 1630

suggests that most were modified in this manner.

At least four major types of iron celts have been recognized:

those with rectangular outline, those with trapezoidal outline, those

with triangular outline, and a form which is round in cross section

with a blade formed on one end. To date, no chronological significance

has been attached to these types. The small sample size hinders analy-

sis. Iron knife blades have been found at sites which range through

the complete time span being considered, but most are so poorly pre-

served that no meaningful typological study can be made. Occasionally

other forms of iron artifacts are encountered on early contact period

sites. Iron spikes are found on sites believed to date prior to 1600.

Juan Pardo carried 34 pounds of nails into the interior for the con-

struction of forts (DePratter and Smith 1980) and these should appear

on Indian sites as they were no doubt quickly salvaged by the


Brass Ornaments

Artifacts made from European copper or brass (both designated

"brass" here for ease of discussion in the face of lack of detailed

analysis and to avoid confusion with artifacts of native copper) became

quite popular trade items. Apparently brass ornaments were not con-

structed from worn-out brass kettles as is usually suggested for such

artifacts in the Northeast. Lack of brass scrap, bail hinge fragments,

and bail fragments suggests that brass ornaments were produced

specifically for the Indian trade by European entrepreneurs (Smith

1977). Representative "types" of brass ornaments found widespread in

the Southeast also suggest European manufacture.

The earliest form of brass ornament found in the interior is

the brass bead constructed from rolled sheet metal. They are occasion-

ally found on sites believed to date to the mid-sixteenth century, but

become more popular during the early seventeenth century (Smith 1977).

Brass bracelets also became popular during the early seven-

teenth century. Bracelets could be manufactured either from sheet

brass rolled into a tube and subsequently bent in a "C" shape, or from

a simple wide band of sheet brass with holes punched in each end to

attach ties. Both types were found at the Bradford Ferry site, with an

estimated date span of 1600-1630 (DeJarnette et al. 1973; Smith 1977).

Brass gorgets, either circular or rectangular (rare) in outline

were also popular trade items. Both shapes are illustrated in sixteenth

century engravings of coastal Indians by De Bry (Fundaburk 1958), but

such artifacts are only found on interior sites believed to date in the

very late sixteenth century (Terrapin Creek, Alabama) or later. Indeed,

brass gorgets remained popular into the eighteenth century or at least

later than 1680. Since it is known that such gorgets were in circula-

tion as early as the 1560s, some sites producing these may date to the

sixteenth century. They appear to be most popular in the early seven-

teenth century. Sites such as Terrapin Creek (terminal sixteenth cen-

tury) and Bradford Ferry (1600-1630) produce numerous examples (Smith

1977), but similar gorgets are also found on mid-seventeenth century

sites such as Cooper Farm (Smith 1977). A late form of brass gorget was

a large, thin, crescent-shaped ornament (Lindsey 1964:Figure 9). These

occur at Cooper Farm (1630-1670) and on later sites such as Woods

Island (Morell 1965). Their popularity is estimated at ca. 1660-1690.

Brass animal effigy pendants are a form of ornament not pre-

viously studied in detail. These pendants are cut from sheet brass in

the profile of an indeterminant quadruped. The animal represented may

be a beaver, turtle, buffalo (Battles 1969) or even an otter. There is

some variation in form: some pendants have exaggerated ears or horns

(Lewis 1960) and some appear more slender than others. Table 4 lists

known occurrences of these pendants. These pendants are fairly wide-

spread over the Southeast, occurring from extreme northeastern Tennes-

see to Mississippi. Only one example has been found in the Northeast,

that at the Blowers Oneida Iroquois site, ca. 1600-1630 (Bennet 1979).

This is also one of the earliest dated contexts for these pendants,

although one from the Talassee site in Tennessee is associated with an

eye bead of a type generally out of circulation by the 1630s. Most of




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these animal effigy pendants seem to date to the period 1630-1690 and

they appear to be reliable time markers. Their widespread distribution

suggests manufacture by Europeans. The earliest southeastern examples

are associated with glass beads believed to be traded by the Spaniards,

while later examples appear with beads typical of those traded by the

English and French (and possibly the Spaniards) afer 1670. A few of

the sites producing them also have a very few gun parts, again suggesting

English contact. It could be suggested that these pendants were the

result of aboriginal trade with the Spaniards in Florida (including

Spanish expeditions to the Indians such as that by Marcos Delgado in

1686); however, it should be pointed out that none of these pendants

have been found on seventeenth century Spanish mission sites in Florida

or along the Georgia coast or at unmissionized aboriginal sites in

Florida. The possibility that they were obtained via aboriginal trade

with the English in Virginia cannot be discounted and they may have

been manufactured by aboriginal craftsmen. Their main concentration

appears to be up and down the Ridge and Valley Province-a main artery

of aboriginal exchange.


Exactly when firearms were first obtained by southeastern

Indians remains an important consideration for dating aboriginal sites.

It is known that in 1673 when Marquette and Joliet descended the Mis-

sissippi River, they found aborigines armed with muskets (Sauer 1980:

139) in the vicinity of Memphis. The Indians said that they had

acquired the firearms from Europeans on the sea coast (presumably the

Gulf Coast, but perhaps the Great Lakes?). Similarly, when Needham

and Arthur reached east Tennessee crossing the Blue Ridge from Virginia

in 1673, they also found the natives armed with "a bout sixty gunnes"

which were not English arms (Williams 1928:29). In 1674, Henry Woodward

visited the Westo on the Savannah River and found them armed with 50

or 60 guns (Swanton 1922:306). Woodward reported that the arms came from

"the north" which could refer to Virginia; however, Crane has suggested

that the Westo were a remnant of the Erie Iroqois who were forced to flee

their homes in 1654-1656 (Crane 1981:6). If this is true, the guns could

have come from the Great Lakes area and been of Dutch or French manufac-


It is clear that native groups around the periphery of the study

area were armed by the early 1670s. Can it be inferred that groups

throughout the area were similarly armed? When Marcos Delgado visited

the Upper Creek towns in 1686, he found refugee groups fleeing well-

armed Indians in the Tennessee Valley (Boyd 1937). Apparently groups

on the Coosa and Tallapoosa drainages were not well armed at the time.

Aboriginal warfare, mostly for slaves to be sent to Charles Towne, was

rampant. Indian groups quickly acquired firearms or banded together

in formidable groups for protection.

There is no ready answer to the question of when southeastern

natives acquired firearms. Probably some firearms were in the study

area by the 1660s. By this time the chiefdoms were defunct due to

disease and depopulation (see Chapters IV and V). Aboriginal patterns

of acquired status had largely been replaced by a system based on status

achieved by prowess in warfare, hunting, and trading. Ownership of

firearms was open to those who could obtain them and being valuable

means of self-preservation, they were probably passed down. Most

early sites with firearms parts such as Woods Island (Morrell 1965)

and some of the Guntersville Reservoir sites (Webb and Wilder 1951)

do not have firearms as grave goods, rather gun parts are found

scattered in the midden. Guns were too valuable to be buried and parts

in the midden probably represent worn-out refuse. It is likely, there-

fore, that firearms were in use some time before direct evidence of

them occurs on archaeological sites. Other forms of evidence, such as

worn-out gun flints and lead shot, could be expected. Lead shot alone

is not sufficient for dating purposes. Juan Pardo took 323 pounds of

lead balls into the interior to supply his chain of forts in 1567-1568

(DePratter and Smith 1980:73) and these were no doubt salvaged by the

Indians soon after the forts were abandoned. Gunflints should provide

adequate evidence of the presence of firearms. It is suggested that

archaeological sites in the study area producing firearms parts

probably postdate the period in question, i.e., they are later than

1670. A few sites with firearms parts may date to the 1660s.


Bells can also be excellent chronological markers. A typology

of trade bells has been worked out by Ian Brown (1979c). The earliest

bell variety is the Clarksdale Bell (Brown 1979c:204) a distinctive sheet

brass bell which Brain (1975) believed was closely associated with the

expedition of Hernando de Soto. While this bell form was in use in the

De Soto period, it is now known that it has a much wider temporal

distribution, lasting well into the first third of the seventeenth

century (Smith 1977:156).

The next bell form, designated the Flushloop Bell by Brown

(1979c:201) first appears during the first third of the seventeenth

century. It remains popular throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth


Finally Brown has identified several varieties of cast brass

bells (1979c). He believes most of these were traded during the early

eighteenth century, but cites Noel Hume who states that such bells

were produced in England in the seventeenth century. Cast brass bells

first appear on Seneca Iroquois sites about 1640 (Wray 1973), and they

probably also circulated in the Southeast at about that same time.

Bishop Calder6n mentions "Cascabeles grandes de bronce" in his letter

of 1675 (Wenhold 1936:13) and these are probably the large harness

bells of cast bronze. This reference seems adequate proof that such

bells were traded by the Spaniards in the seventeenth century.

Discussion of Assemblages

While there are some very diagnostic trade goods that can act

as "index fossils" for dating archaeological sites of the early historic

period, it is more important to use entire assemblages of trade materials

for this purpose. Using the entire assemblage acts as a safeguard

against "heirlooming" and may also help provide an estimate of length

of occupation. The period 1525-1670 has been divided into four

assemblages of trade materials to which have been assigned approximate

dates: Assemblage A, 1525-1565; Assemblage B, 1565-1600; Assemblage C,

1600-1630; and Assemblage D, 1630-1670. These assemblages represent

Periods A-D (Table 5).

Assemblage A (Figure 4) includes types of trade goods brought

in by the earliest Spanish explorers. In the interior, this would

include only De Soto. It is suggested that the later Luna and Pardo

expeditions of the 1560s carried different merchandise to a large

degree, but is admitted that this cannot be proven with the available

historical evidence. Archaeological evidence comes from a seriation

of sites and the recognition of a distinctive assemblage which is

intermediate between what is designated A and C.

The most diagnostic artifact of Assemblage A is the long,

tubular Nueva Cadiz style bead. Historical references to these beads

and archaeological evidence from historically dated early sixteenth

century sites provide accurate dating of this style (Fairbanks 1968;

Smith and Good 1982). Other artifacts in Assemblage A included faceted

chevron beads, iron chisels and wedges, Clarksdale style bells, tubular

sheet brass beads (rare), and odd pieces of military hardware salvaged

from the expedition of De Soto (such as large spikes, bits of swords,

armor, etc.). Eyed axe forms could be expected. One of the most

diagnostic artifact forms of this period would be iron chain, but to

date chain has been recovered only rarely. De Soto carried much chain

to enslave the Indians and the narratives mention Indians filing off

their chains to escape.


Table 5. European artifact assemblages


Artifact A B C D

Nueva Cadiz beads X

Faced chevron beads X X

Iron chisels and wedges X X X X

Clarksdale bells X X X

Tubular brass beads X X X X

Tumbled turquoise blue beads X X X

Tumbled chevron beads X

Eye beads X

Eyed axes X X

Brass disc gorgets X X

Conical bangles X X

Flushloop bells X X

Brass animal effigy X

Brass crescent gorget X

Brass clips X

Cast brass bells X









__ e



As there is good evidence that Luna and Pardo visited the

same towns in the same locations as those visited by De Soto, there is

a good chance that artifacts from two or even three of these expeditions

might occur on the same site. It is quite possible that artifacts from

the individual expeditions might be detected. For example, the De Soto

and Luna expeditions had horses, while the Pardo expedition did not.

Glass bead styles are believed to have changed about the time of the

Pardo expedition and it is probable that he traded spherical blue beads

instead of the long Nueva Cadiz styles. The De Soto expedition was one

of conquest and military gear was predominant. The Luna expedition was

a colonizing venture, so farming tools were no doubt more common.

Luna also brought several hundred Medican farmers and distinctive

Mexican ceramics may have been carried inland. The Pardo expedition

was largely a political venture and alliances were sealed with frequent

gifts (DePratter and Smith 1980). It is also probable that some new

sites were established after the disease/famine disruption of the De

Soto expedition. Thus some Assemblage A sites may be short-term

occupations. The King Site is an example.

Assemblage B (1565-1600) is virtually identical to Assemblage A

except for a change in glass bead styles (Figure 4). The long, tubular

Nueva Cadiz styles were replaced by spherical blue beads of several

shades (especially turquoise blue, navy blue, and a transparent medium

blue). Faceted chevron beads continue to occur and iron chisels, wedges,

spikes, and Clarksdale bells are found. Again eyed axes are a potential

find, although no site with an Assemblage B has produced one at this

time. Florida sites of this period produce cut crystal, silver,

and amber beads, although such beads are not commonly found inland.

European material is in general more common during Period B (see

Chapter V).

Sites of Assemblage B are hypothesized to represent new villages

established after the first epidemics brought about by De Soto, Luna,

and Pardo. Early trade material on these sites probably derives from

Luna and Pardo, while later occupants of sites of this time span probably

obtained trade goods from the new Spanish settlements along the Atlantic

coast of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina via aboriginal trade.

Assemblage C (1600-1630) is quite distinctive when compared

with the earlier assemblages (Figure 5). European material is common-

place and is no longer restricted to the elite. Perhaps the best known

site of this period is the Bradford Ferry site (Smith 1977). This is

a period of very distinctive glass bead styles. The most popular bead

is the common, spherical turquoise blue bead introduced in Period B,

but medium blue and navy blue monochrome beads are also common. The

most diagnostic beads of this assemblage include chevron beads, now

rounded by reheating to a spherical shape instead of being faceted on the

ends, "eye beads" (Smith 1982) and tumbled compound beads of three

layers. There are a great many varieties of striped beads and small

"seed beads" and faceted "pony-size" (ca. 3 mm) beads appear in large


Iron chisels or celts are known from this period and eyed axes

also occur. The real hallmark of this period is the proliferation of

brass ornaments. Disc-shaped gorgets become very common, as do conical

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bangles, bracelets of rolled or sheet brass, and rolled tubular brass

beads. The combination of the distinctive brass ornaments and par-

ticular glass bead styles is unmistakable. Clarksdale bells have been

found on several sites of this period, but the first flushloop bells

appear in this period. Aboriginal shell work is largely replaced by

glass beads and brass gorgets.

Trade material found in the interior at this time virtually all

comes from aboriginal trade with the Atlantic coastal settlements of

the Spaniards. The amount of material found in the interior is quite

unexpected, considering the absence of direct contact (the exception

being the 1596 expedition to Ocute) and absence of an organized deerskin

trade. The Spanish mission system was well established on the Atlantic

coast and was spreading into the interior of Florida to the Potano, but

on the other hand, Santa Elena was abandoned and the Apalachee missions

had not yet been established. Apparently aboriginal trade carried many

more European items into the interior than might have been expected for

a society on the decline. Apparently the survivors of the epidemics of

the sixteenth century were now firmly established and in the absence of

direct European intervention, were thriving in the interior. Certainly

aboriginal commerce was most successful.

Assemblage D, 1630-1670 (Figure 6), is much like its predeces-

sor. A number of items disappear, including Clarksdale Bells and vari-

ous glass bead styles (especially eye beads, chevron beads, and multiple

layer beads). Iron celts are still found, but eyed axes are increasingly

common. Brass ornaments are still popular and three new forms become




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important: the animal effigy pendant, "crescent" gorget, and small

brass clips used to decorate leather clothing. Aboriginal engraved

shell gorgets are no longer manufactured in the study area. Cast brass

bells become very common, while flushloop bells are still present. While

these were no doubt manufactured in England (Brown 1979c:200), it is believed

many were traded by the Spaniards. Spain was not a manufacturing

center and had to purchase its trade goods from many areas (Wolf 1982:

113). Cast brass bells first appear in the Northeast ca. 1640 (Wray

1973:23) and there is no reason to doubt their similar occurrence in

the Southeast. By the end of this period, firearms were probably,

utilized but were not common in the study area. Any quantity of fire-

arms on sites in the interior Southeast generally places them later in

time (post-1670). A few sites of this period produce unusual glass

beads of types made in Holland and traded by the Dutch and English in

areas from North Carolina northward. I suggest that by this period,

aboriginal trade networks were expanded to the northeast to obtain a

greater variety of European goods. This alternative explanation may

also explain the presence of British bells in the area before Carolina

or Virginia explorers reached the area.

Aboriginal Materials

As discussed above, the "Iroquois Methodology" looks at the

ratio between aboriginally produced materials and European trade goods.

Let us briefly consider the aboriginal component, using the periods

established by the seriation of European goods, stressing aboriginal

manufacturing decline.

Period A is largely the pristine aboriginal period with the

addition of European artifacts functioning in a sociotechnic mode (see

Chapter V). Sites of Period A still have native copper work-so-called

Southern Cult material (although it is quite rate). Aboriginal stone-

working, shellworking, and ceramic manufacture show no decline.

Period B is much like Period A, but evidence of native copper

working is on the decline. Sociotechnic chipped flint knives are less

important, although sociotechnic forms of ground stone axes (especially

the spatulate form) are still quite common. Shellworking is still

important; beads and rattlesnake gorgets are found.

By Period C, there is no longer evidence of working of native

copper. Shell beads and gorgets are soon replaced by glass and brass

counterparts. Ground stone celts are almost nonexistent, being replaced

by iron celts and eyed axes.

In Period D, there is some return to native shellworking,

especially for beads and ear pins, but engraved gorgets are unknown. It

should be noted that there is no decline in ceramic manufacture during

the early historic period. The Spaniards never traded brass kettles

during the early historic period, so ceramics were as important as ever.

Similarly, chipped stone projectile points remained important throughout

the period, as firearms did not become important until after 1670.

Table 6 presents a list of archaeological sites in the study

area which have produced European artifacts which allow them to be dated.

The table includes diagnostic European artifacts, the assigned Complex,

References, and estimated dates of occupation. Note that the dates are

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based solely on the European artifacts. Many sites dated 1540-1575 have

a long prehistoric occupation and some of the late sites continue to be

important into the eighteenth century.


Anthropologists and historians have long recognized the fact

that early European explorers introduced European and African diseases

to the New World (Crosby 1972; Milner 1980; Fish and Fish 1979; Hudson

1980; Dobyns 1983). Native Americans had no natural immunity to

these new diseases, and death rates soared. What had become over the

ages little more than childhood diseases, such as measles, in the Old

World, became horrible plagues in the New World, literally exterminat-

ing populations of New World natives. For example, the Arawaks of Santo

Domingo numbered an estimated 1,000,000 in 1492, but by 1548 only about

500 survived,according to Oviedo (Crosby 1972:45).

While historical accounts of the effects of European disease

have long existed, it is only recently that its devastating effects have

been truly appreciated. Research by Henry Dobyns in particular has made

us aware of the massive destruction of the epidemics (Dobyns 1963,1966,

1983). Other research by Carl Sauer (1971), Alfred Crosby (1972),

Suzanne and Paul Fish (1979), George Milner (1980), Charles Hudson

(1980), and Ann Ramenofsky (1982) have further described the process

in the southeastern United States.

Historical Background

What is the history of epidemic disease in the Southeast? We

still do not really know, but the ethnohistorical literature provides

some clues. It is, of course, possible that the first explorers who

visited the Southeast introduced disease. It is well documented that

one carrier of smallpox who served with Cort6s' conquering army was

responsible for a massive epidemic in Mexico (Crosby 1972:48-49).

Thus, one sick European or African could easily spread new diseases to

a vulnerable aboriginal group.

Ponce de Le6n has been credited as being the first European to

"discover" the southeastern United States. After he explored the

coast of Florida in 1513, Ponce returned to Florida in 1521 with 200

colonists, livestock, and horses and landed somewhere in Florida,

probably at Charlotte Harbor. Continued Indian attacks forced them to

retreat. Significantly, many of the colonists fell ill from an uniden-

tified disease. It is quite possible that the Indians also contracted

this disease (Hudson 1980).

Pedro de Salazar visited one of the barrier islands of the

Atlantic coast sometime between 1514 and 1516 and contacted Indians

(Hoffman 1980). In 1516, Diego Miruelo is believed to have traded with

the Florida Indians for gold somewhere on the Gulf and in 1517 Francisco

Hern6ndez de C6rdova visited the same harbor, possibly Charlotte Harbor,

previously visited by Ponce de Le6n. In 1519, Alonzo Alvarez de

Pineda coasted the entire Gulf of Mexico from southern Florida to Panuco.

He stopped at a great river believed to be Mobile Bay, where he noted

some 40 villages (Swanton 1946:35). It is not known if these voyages

spread any disease, but it certainly is possible.

In 1521, Lucas Vgzquez de Ayll6n sent a slave-raiding expedition

to the Atlantic coast, where they managed to capture several Indians.

Later in 1526, Ayll6n himself traveled to the Atlantic coast in a

colonizing venture. The colonists became ill and many died, including

Ayll6n himself. It thus appears likely that the Ayll6n colony was also

responsible for the introduction of European disease (Hudson 1980),

as shall be seen later.

P6nfilo de Narvaez attempted to settle Florida in 1528, but

his attempts failed and a few survivors reached Mexico. Again there is

specific mention of disease among Spaniards of this expedition (Fish

and Fish 1979:31).

With the De Soto expedition of 1539-1543, we gain our first

glimpse of the interior and it is clear that epidemic disease has

preceded the expedition. The chroniclers of the De Soto expedition

note that there had been an epidemic at Talomeco on the South Carolina

fall line. Hundreds of bodies were stacked up in four of the houses

according to Garcilaso, while Elvas reports that several towns were

depopulated and survivors had moved to other towns (in Milner 1980:43-

44). Hudson notes it is significant that in the mortuary temple, De

Soto's men discovered European items that they believed to have come

from the Ayll6n colony (Hudson 1980).

In 1559, Tristan de Luna attempted to found a colony on the Gulf

coast, probably at Pensacola Bay. With his food supply failing, he

sent a contingent of troops inland to Coosa. Swanton (1939) and Charles

Hudson (Hudson, Smith, Hally, Polhemus, and DePratter 1983) maintain

that the Luna expedition reached the same Coosa town site as De Soto,

but the Coosa they describe was changed. Instead of a powerful chiefdom,

some seven small villages are mentioned (Priestly 1928). Milner (1980:

44) maintains that the discrepancy is due to demographic collapse.

While generally agreeing, Hudson (1980) notes that the evidence is not

as clear as could be wished.

Later coastal colonizing attempts by the French and Spaniards

in Florida and South Carolina in the 1560s culminated in the founding of

St. Augustine and Santa Elena (Bennett 1975; Lyon 1976). Coastal mission

stations were soon set up and the expeditions of Juan Pardo were sent

into the interior in 1566-1568, retracing a segment of the De Soto

expedition from the Carolina fall line into eastern Tenneessee (DePratter,

Hudson, and Smith 1983). Spanish missions were established as far north

as Chesapeake Bay (Lewis and Loomie 1953). Again, opportunities for the

spread of disease were many.

Once Europeans were firmly entrenched in the Southeast, his-

torical documentation of European disease epidemics became more frequent

and more reliable. In 1585, Sir Francis Drake's men contracted a highly

contagious fever in the Cape Verde Islands, which Crosby believes was

typhus, and they brought it to Florida when they attacked St. Augustine

(Crosby 1972:40). Indians in the St. Augustine region died rapidly.

The English colony at Roanoke Island in 1587 left an impressive

account of the effects of European disease on the local Indians. Thomas

Hariot noted that "within a few days after our departure from everies

such townes, that people began to die very fast, and many in short

space . ." (in Crosby 1972:40; Fish and Fish 1979:32).

Later English accounts in Virginia and the Carolinas document

further epidemics. John Smith in early seventeenth-century Virginia

noted that for every 100-200 Indians previously observed, only about

10 remained. Smallpox epidemics are recorded for 1667 and 1696-1698

(Milner 1980:46). John Lawson wrote in 1709 that smallpox had

destroyed entire towns, without leaving even one survivor. He estimated

that only one-sixth as many Indians remained in the area as had been

there 50 years previously (in Milner 1980:46).

Spanish missionaries also dutifully recorded reduction of

population due to disease in seventeenth-century Florida-Georgia. In

their 1617 report, it was noted that half of the missionized Indians

had died in the previous four years. Other epidemics were noted for

1659 and 1672 (Swanton 1922; Milner 1980:44). Recently Henry Dobyns

has documented European disease epidemics in Florida (1983) and his

findings are summarized in Table 7.

Clearly there was ample opportunity for the spread of epidemic

disease during the early historic period. Certainly epidemics raged in

coastal areas, but did they enter the interior in general and the

present study area in particular? The evidence from De Soto and the

Luna expeditions suggests that they did, although Milner suggests that

disease epidemics were largely geographically circumscribed within

Indian sociopolitical units (Milner 1980:47). Certainly De Soto's

chroniclers report evidence of disease only in the province of Cofita-


On the other hand, it is entirely possible that pandemics swept

the Southeast, a fact that Milner (1980) and Hudson (1980) consider.

Henry Dobyns make a strong case for pandemics sweeping coastal North

Table 7. Disease epidemics in Florida, 1512-1672

Date Disease Probability Mortality


















Malaria (?)


Measles or typhoid


Bubonic plague




Unidentified and
endemic syphilis


Vectored fever


Bubonic plague

Yellow fever



Influenza (?)

Dobyns 1983:Tables 25,27


Nearly certain

Nearly certain


Nearly certain

Very probable


Nearly certain












About 50%


About 12.5%

Perhaps 10%


About 20%




About 25%


About 33%




Source: After

America and suggests these epidemics spread inland (1983:319,24-25).

Looking at analogous situations elsewhere proves interesting.

Crosby (1972:48) notes that a 1518-1519 smallpox epidemic in

Santo Domingo could have spread to the continent before CortEs' inva-

sion of Mexico. Smallpox has been reported in the written records of

the Maya themselves during the second decade of the sixteenth century

(Crosby 1972:48).

Again in Peru there is good evidence that European disease pre-

ceded the Spaniards. The Inca Huayna Capac was apparently killed by

an epidemic, probably of smallpox, along with many of his subjects in

the province of Quito before Europeans landed in Peru (Crosby 1972:

51-52). It is clear that Huayna Capac had heard of the Europeans and

Crosby notes, "Such is the communicability of smallpox and the other

eruptive fevers that any Indian who received news of the Spaniards could

also have easily received the infection of the European diseases"

(1972:51). It thus seems safe to infer that Indians of the southeastern

United States probably underwent multiple epidemics during the sixteenth

century. Ann Ramenofsky (1982) and Henry Dobyns (1983) have recently

argued that European disease epidemics often preceded direct European

contact in North America.

Mary Helms' model of chiefly trade in Panama has been mentioned

previously in the discussion of long-distance trade networks. Such

long-distance movements by traders probably insured the rapid spread

of disease vectors even across sociopolitical units.

Given the strong arguments amassed by Dobyns and Ramenofsky and

the pattern of rapid spread of disease historically documented in other

parts of the New World, for the purpose of this study it is assumed that

disease rapidly spread inland. The remainder of this chapter will

discuss the effects of disease and archaeological measures of disease

in the study area.

Documented Effects of Disease

What were the effects of European disease epidemics recorded in

historic sources? Clearly depopulation was the major effect. Figures

from Santo Domingo have already been cited and they are no doubt repre-

sentative. Henry Dobyns (1966) cites historical evidence from several

New World locals to arrive at an overall depopulation ratio of 20 to 1.

This means that for every 20 people in the New World in 1492, by the

nadir (low point of the population of a group-the time varies) that

only one remained. Smallpox, one of the worse killers, has a mortality

rate among "virgin soil" populations (those with no natural immunity) of

some 30% (Crosby 1972:44). Hudson suggests that introduced diseases

such as smallpox, measles, influenza, etc. may have killed up to 90% of

the population (1980). Considering John Lawson's remarks that entire

villages were destroyed, even that figure may have been low in some


In addition to the terrible depopulation, epidemic disease had

many effects on the survivors. Survivors of the disease may have been

weakened enough to later die of starvation (Fish and Fish 1979:32;

Crosby 1972:47), especially if everyone were sick at critical times of

planting or harvest and subsistence activities were interrupted.

Social and political relations were also affected by epidemic

disease. Crosby discusses the effects of disease on the Aztec power

structure (1972:54). As the leaders were struck down by disease, the

processes of government were disrupted and conquest by the Europeans

was assured. Milner notes that the long-term effects of disease

"attributable to an insufficient labor force, including specialists,

probably necessitated societal reorganization and coalescence of

formerly discrete groups in order to remain as viable social and

economic entities" (1980:47). Such population movements are well docu-

mented. Dobyns discusses such a reorganization in Amazonia. During

the twentieth century, surviving Sabane "have joined forces with sur-

vivors of other Nambikwara groups, so an amalgam social unit may

eventually survive" (Dobyns 1966:413). Thus banding together of sur-

vivors is one type of documented population movement caused by epidemic

disease. Another response was simply to flee from disease areas. Per-

haps the best account is that of the Gentleman of Elvas discussing the

effects of disease on the province of Cofitachiqui in piedmont South

Carolina just east of the present study area. Elvas reports that after

a plague, survivors removed to other towns (Smith 1968:63; Milner 1980:

43). Clark Wissler reports a shift in tribal territory following a

1780 epidemic that swept western North America. This shift resulted

from differential survival (in Dobyns 1966:441). The Cakchiquel Mayas

of Guatemala kept their own record of an epidemic of 1520-1521 and they

noted that half of the people fled (Crosby 1972:58). Henry Dobyns also

discusses simplification of social systems and settlement shifts as a

response to disease (1983:313-328).

Perhaps the most serious effect of epidemic disease is an over-

all loss of elements of culture. Charles Hudson cites Akiga, a Tiv,

who told of depopulation so swift and so devastating that ancestral

traditions were lost. Hudson suggests that such was the case in the

Southeast. "We can be sure that our understanding of southeastern

Indian knowledge, philosophy, religion, and art symbolism is the merest

fragment of what existed at the time of De Soto's entrada" (Hudson

1980). Bruce Trigger similarly suggests the loss of much traditional

religious lore among the Huron following the epidemics of the 1630s

(1976:601). The loss of religious and genealogical lore on a traditional

aboriginal group must not be underestimated. This must be an important

factor in culture change and it surely paves the way for acculturation.

Hudson further suggests that a heavy loss of life in the chiefly lineage

"would probably have led to the segmentation of chiefdoms into several

smaller, less centralized social entities" (1980).

The historical record documents several results of epidemic

European disease that can be expected to have occurred in the south-

eastern United States. These include massive depopulation, population

movement, social and political reorganization, and loss of many elements

of culture.

Archaeological Parameters

It is clear from historical accounts and work by ethnologists

and ethnohistorians that European epidemic disease had a devastating

effect on the New World. To date, few anthropologists have made an

effort to correlate these historically known phenomena with the

archaeological record. It is the purpose of the remainder of this

chapter to investigate ways that archaeological data can be operation-

alized to fit the model of drastic population decline. Some of the

hypotheses offered can be tested with available data, while others

are proposed to promote future research.

The most obvious way to search for the effects of European-

introduced epidemic disease would appear to be to study skeletal remains.

Unfortunately, such epidemic diseases are usually quick killers in

virgin soil populations and, therefore, leave little evidence on bones

(Milner 1980:49). Survivors of epidemic disease may show the formation

of Harris lines or enamel hypoplasia, but these are simply markers of

stress and cannot be positively correlated with specific diseases

(Milner1980:49). Such stress markers might also be associated with

famine-which may or may not be a secondary result of epidemic disease

(Fish and Fish 1979:32; Milner 1980:47).

Hudson (1980) suggests that the first disease epidemics may have

been so devastating that no one was left to bury the bodies. The

historical accounts of epidemic disease suggest that a few people will

always survive; however, it is possible to envision a scenario in which

bodies are left exposed for some time before burial. If this is the

case, then there are several pieces of evidence which could be hypothe-

sized for the archaeological record. Bones left exposed might show gnaw-

ing marks from dogs or rodents. To my knowledge, no such marks have

been reported in the literature. Burial at a later time might be only

of disarticulated or partially disarticulated remains; portions of the

body might have been removed by scavengers. An enquiry was directed to

Dr. Robert Blakely who is currently studying the King site skeletal

series under a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Blakely reports

that there is evidence of gnawed bones. Seckinger (1975:67) notes

missing elements, but it is not clear if preservation, or delayed burial,

or some other factor is to blame.

Burial at a later date might take the form of a mass interment

(Milner 1980:48). Milner does caution that mass burial may be the

result of other factors, such as retainer sacrifice, so the context of

such mass graves must be carefully considered. Mass burial is not a com-

mon form in the prehistoric Southeast; however, at the sixteenth-century

King site a mass grave was found that would appear to be a strong candi-

date for a post-epidemic mass burial. The Period A and D Toqua site

excavated by Richard Polhemus for the University of Tennessee's Tellico

Reservoir project contained three mass burials of 3, 5, and 7 individuals,

again suggesting European disease (Richard Polhemus, personal communica-

tion). Other evidence of depopulation at Toqua will be considered

below. Mass grave features should be encountered on other early sites

when they are finally excavated.

Milner also suggests that multiple burials could be expected to

result from European disease epidemics. Here multiple burials are

differentiated from mass burials solely in terms of numbers. Multiple

burials consist of the remains of two individuals, while mass burials

are of three or more individuals. There is historical documentation that

multiple burial can be the result of European epidemic disease. St. Cosme