Master of Arts (M.A.)
Martin D. Gallivan
Audrey J. Horning
Julia A. King
This study examines long-term change in Indigenous settlement in Virginia's Rappahannock River Valley and its underlying causes during the Archaic Period (10,000-3000 BP). Previously-unstudied archaeological collections from two sites along the Rappahannock River provided evidence of demographic changes from the Middle Archaic to the Late Archaic period, and offered evidence of shifting settlement patterns. To evaluate why different locations were selected for Middle Archaic settlement versus Late Archaic settlement, the overall topography, hydrology and environmental settings of the two sites were evaluated by geospatial analyses of LiDAR images. The reasons for the changes were assessed further using the research framework of Historical Ecology to consider long-term environmental data in conjunction with paleoclimate, biological and archaeological information. Climate change, sea-level rise, formation of the Chesapeake Bay and the effects of embayment on the landscape of the tributary Rappahannock River were evaluated. I present a line of reasoning that links the Late Archaic choice of settlement location to the new riverine resources that became available as the Rappahannock River flow-rate slowed dramatically with Chesapeake embayment. A rationale and broad time-line for this transition are deduced. This information is coupled with analyses of the archaeological lithic assemblages to examine Indigenous actions and choices made relevant to settlement, subsistence and technology in the face of environmental change. These studies benefited from consultation with present-day members of the Rappahannock Tribe.
© The Author
Wertz, Gail Williams, "Dwelling "Where The Waters Rise And Fall:" The Historical Ecology Of Archaic Period Settlement In The Rappahannock River Valley" (2020). Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. Paper 1616444442.
Available for download on Saturday, August 14, 2021