Periodically, we mention publications about topics related to archaeology. Some true reviews, while others simply introduce publications you may be interested in. We try to emphasize the classics, and new and informative titles. We also mention downloadable volumes.

There are 31 articles in this category. Each excerpt below links to the full article (click on the article headline or the 'Click here to read' link!)

Abandonment/reuse of the Etowah mounds

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

King 2003 Etowah paperback cover CUWhile the Etowah mounds are large and imposing, and people used them over several hundred years during the Mississippian period, they were not continuously occupied. Read the story of the Etowah mounds in detail in Adam King’s Etowah: The Political History of a Chiefdom Capital (2003; University of Alabama Press), which is now available in paperback and ebook versions.

Long-distance travel: The Leake Site example

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Leake on National Map topo CUIn an article in the Fall 2011 issue of Early Georgia (vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 173–200), Scot Keith discusses evidence for long-distance trade and exchange in Middle Woodland times (from about 350 BC to AD 650), using data from the Leake Site, near Cartersville. Members of the SGA in 2011 received that issue of Early Georgia as a benefit of membership. Join the SGA, and you will receive the current volume of Early Georgia!

Is religion an adaptive behavior?

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Wade Faith Instinct cover cropped CUNicholas Wade, in his 2009 book, The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures, argues that behaviors we describe as religious conferred a survival advantage on early humans, and thus were adaptive and favored by natural selection. The benefits he ascribes to religious beliefs and practices include emotions like trust and loyalty, which support cooperation and empathy, improve group cohesion, and improve the survival rate of groups.

An ethnohistorian’s insights into untangling the past

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Looking for de Soto cover CUHave you ever wondered what it would have been like to travel in North America with an early European adventurer? Read Joyce Rockwood Hudson’s Looking for De Soto: A Search Through the South for the Spaniard’s Trail (published in 1993) and you will learn what it was like to try to trace the route that Hernando De Soto and his entourage took through southeastern North America in 1540. Mrs. Hudson and her husband, then UGA professor Dr. Charles Hudson, set out to retrace and verify the route of the De Soto expedition in 1984.

Ways to make the past a story

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Fraser Rimas Empires cover CUHistorical and archaeological books and articles commonly tell the story of the past either using a timeline (a sequential version of the past) or using a specific topic—a place or person or theme—to anchor the tale. This story notes that there’re two sequential versions of Georgia’s past on this website—a table and a prose post. The full story contrasts these with Caldwell’s volume on research prior to the flooding of the Allatoona Reservoir, and a book on food and the human past (and future)—both with topical foci. Caldwell’s volume is recommended to anyone interested in Georgia’ prehistory.

How important is dating?

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

In Small Things Forgotten title page CUMany people have encountered one of the editions of James Deetz’s In Small Things Forgotten: The Archaeology of Early American Life, which was first published in 1977 and is still an insightful volume. Dr. Deetz discusses, among many other things, the importance of chronology and dating to the study of the past. He also argues that small things are extremely important to understanding the past, giving examples of how we may continue behaviors with roots in the past in everyday life today.

What was the New World like in 1491?

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Mann 2005 cover CU In 2005, Charles C. Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus appeared on bookstore shelves, and still is selling well in a paperback edition with a new afterword. Mann’s book focuses on what the New World was like prior to the arrival of the Columbus expedition in 1492. Mann offers enough information for you to envision what you would have seen if you could have flown over the Western Hemisphere in AD 1000. What he writes about may be a bit (or a lot) different from what you learned in school about his subject.

Social science > anthropology > archaeology

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Barfield 2010 Afghanistan cover CUArchaeologists think of human society as very complex. Other social scientists prioritize certain aspects of human social life. For example, political scientists look at political behavior, of individuals and the groups they form. We consider an example offered by anthropologist Thomas Barfield in which he observes that Afghani society prioritizes group interests (e.g., honor), whereas modern Americans, as a society, prioritize individual interests (e.g., household wealth).

Collective learning, baseball caps, and Clovis points

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Braves batter 2007 CUHumans are adept at collective learning. We share information with our peers and information is learned from our elders and passed along to the next generation. This means that we don’t have to expend as much energy learning something that another person already learned. How can this be seen archaeologically? Baseball caps and Clovis points are touched on in the full discussion.

Scales of data and analysis

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Data data data data CUConsider how quantities of fine-grained data obtained through careful, well-documented excavation can be integrated to investigate broader questions of socio-political evolution. Consider how the scale of data and the research questions you can ask using them are related.

Study Georgia’s natural environment using 1978 volume

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Wharton 1978 Natural Environments cover CUTo understand our human past, archaeologists study many kinds of information, for example, the natural environment. Charles H. Wharton’s The Natural Environments of Georgia (1978) remains a useful resource for understanding our state. Wharton’s book was published originally by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and its third printing (1998) is still available from the Georgia Geologic Survey.

Understanding the Mississippian past by uniting archaeology and history

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Hudson 1997 Knights and Warriors cover CUArchaeologists call the period when explorers from the Iberian peninsula first wandered through Georgia the Mississippian period. Charles Hudson, in Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun (1997), describes the clash of the two cultures that resulted, focusing on Hernando de Soto and the group of hundreds of soldiers, craftsmen, and hangers-on who traveled with him in the 1700s, and the people living in the towns they visited. What makes his book truly special is that he weaves together information from Spanish chroniclers with archaeological data, to produce a well-rounded tale of this poorly documented period in Georgia’s past.

LR Binford on cultural evolution

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

In April 2011, archaeologist Lewis R. Binford (b. 1931) died. His 2001 book Constructing Frames of Reference presents cross-cultural data on hunting-and-gathering peoples who lived similar to Paleoindian peoples of Georgia. One issue commonly discussed in archaeology and addressed by Dr. Binford in his book is the transition away from hunting and gathering to more sedentary ways of life.

Ca. 1800 Georgia illuminated in Creek ethnohistory

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Ethridge Creek Country title page CUEthnohistorian Robbie Ethridge, in Creek Country: The Creek Indians and Their World (2003: University of North Carolina Press) describes “a distant, lost world—the world of the Creek Indians at the close of the eighteenth century.” She unites archaeological and historical data to illuminate this largely overlooked period. Read Dr. Ethridge’s book and you will understand Georgia’s early history anew.

Colonoware Examined: Another Heritage Remembered

Submitted by Karen Denham Downen, BFA, MHP (Graduate Certificate in Native American Studies Potter, Educator and Preservationist)

Colonoware_Examine_CU.jpg Get your copy today! Volumes in Historical Archaeology: No. 49 Colonoware Examined: Another Heritage Remembered. This volume is an overview of past and current research on South Carolina and Georgia colonoware: Including initial assessment of representative, excavated pottery and shards and comparison with known ceramic technology.

New volume on excavations at Major Ridge home

Submitted by Pat Garrow (

Garrow Chieftains cover CULong-time SGA member Pat Garrow’s new book, The Chieftain Excavations, 1969-1971 reports the results of excavations Pat conducted on the Chieftains site, home of Cherokee leader Major Ridge (died, 1839) in Rome from 1969 to 1971. Analyses clearly indicate that George Lavender’s Store had been located in the north side yard of Major Ridge’s home, and had stood over the stone-lined cellar found during the excavations. Read more about this interesting research—and follow a link to order the volume in paperback or as a PDF—in the full story.

Early historic Native American world view presented in fiction

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Hudson_Conversations_title_pg_cu.jpgCharles Hudson, in his 2003 novel, Conversations with the High Priest of Coosa (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), relies in part on archaeology to inform his presentation of imagined conversations between a Native American leader and a Spanish visitor in the early 1500s. Hudson used archaeological information along with archival materials to imagine the world views, or belief systems, of these two men from such different places and cultures. Coosa was a 16th-century chiefdom based in northwest Georgia. Consider how novelists have used archaeology to inform their stories….

Now available: Extraordinary Fluted Points of the Tennessee Valley Region

Submitted by Ellis Whitt (

Ellis Whitt announces the availability of a book he has been compiling since 2008, titled Extraordinary Fluted Points of the Tennessee Valley Region. It has nearly 200 pages and contains full-page photographs of 170 extraordinary fluted Paleo artifacts with key bits of information about several of the photographed artifacts.

History of Atlanta combines text and images

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Burns_Atlanta_Yesterday_and_Tomorrow_CU.jpgRebecca Burns uses photographs and archival information to tell the history of Atlanta in her 2010 book Atlanta: Yesterday & Today. The author tells Atlanta’s story by neighborhood, with thematic sections, rather than through a single chronological storyline. The lively text is augmented by historical and modern images to convey “the character, moxie, and extraordinary history that combined to earn Atlanta its status as the capital of the New South.” Consider how the order and organization of a history may affect how the reader perceives the places and times discussed.

CW Ceram on archaeology

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Gods_Graves_Scholars_Ceram_cover_CU.jpgCW Ceram’s Gods, Graves, and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology is a famous but dated book on archaeology, that for years was one of the few serious books on the subject that many people had read. Ceram thought that the practice of archaeology was both romantic and scholarly. In fact he wrote, “Yet in truth no science is more adventurous than archaeology…”. Contemplate this and more that Ceram wrote….

Read a free history book

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Bonner_book_record_download_CU.jpgThe University of Georgia Press has partnered with the Digital Library of Georgia to offer out-of-print history books free online. Take a look at the selection and read about Georgia’s past—for free!

Must-have book: Hudson’s Southeastern Indians

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Hudson_SE_Indians_cover_CU.jpgCharles Hudson’s book The Southeastern Indians, originally published in 1976, remains a must-have book for the library of anyone seriously interested in Georgia’s past. This book, with its maps and black-and-white photographic plates, is an excellent place to learn about the native peoples who lived in Georgia. It remains available in paperback at a reasonable cost.

How important was cooking in human evolution?

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

campfire_at_night_CUPublished in spring 2009, Richard Wrangham’s book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (Basic Books) argues that the ability to use fire for cooking foodstuffs allowed the changes that have made humans a distinct species. What do you think of this argument? Read more about the book and Wrangham’s hypothesis in the full story.

Maritime and inland transportation networks over time

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Cunliffe_cover_CUExamination of the regions of the world shows that not all are similarly easy to traverse on foot or via waterways—and coastlines—as ancient peoples would. Yet, people exchanged goods and information via networks that spanned great distances. Compare the European and Southeastern North American regions with these concepts in mind.

Moundville comes to life in slim new volume

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Moundville_GoogleEarth_CUJohn H. Blitz doesn’t mince words. Answering the question who built the mounds at the famous Mississippian settlement next to the Black Warrior River at Moundville, Alabama, Blitz writes: “We don’t know” (page 4). Nevertheless, Blitz presents a useful summary of the settlement, research relevant to interpreting it, and the history of how it came to be the 320-acre Moundville Archaeological Park in a new book.

“Preserving Georgia’s Historic Cemeteries”

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

cemetery_marker_GA_cuThe Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has a downloadable sixteen-page booklet dated November 2007, titled Preserving Georgia’s Historic Cemeteries that you may find interesting.

Tasty tidbits versus wild fruit

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

cultures_of_habitat_CUIn Cultures of Habitat: On Nature, Culture, and Story (Counterpoint, 1997) ethnobotanist and essayist Gary Paul Nabhan argues that modern peoples tend not to have opportunities for discovery in the natural world, and that this distance from our environment means we don’t grasp the complexity of the world and of ecology. Do you agree?

Outliers and rare events

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

data_plot_example_b_swan_cuIn a data set, an outlier is a point or value that is far different from expectations. You don’t have to be a statistician to consider the impact of true outliers, especially in archaeological radiocarbon data sets, for example. This Weekly Ponder broaches the subject of outliers, as discussed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007, Random House).

New experimental archaeology/primitive technology book

Submitted by Tom Gresham (

Long time SGA member and primitive technology researcher Scott Jones has just published a book that is a compilation of his articles from the past decade related to primitive technology and experimental archaeology. Scott has practiced primitive technology for two decades and now makes a living presenting the subject to the general public (always with […]

Archaeology for Dummies

Submitted by Nancy White (

Wiley Publishing has just issued Archaeology for Dummies ($21.95) by SGA member Nancy White. The book tells how archaeology is detective work and traces over 2 million years of prehistoric human cultures. It demonstrates how archaeology uncovers things about historic times that history can’t, and shows how archaeological knowledge is useful for modern issues like […]

Choctaw dictionary

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

choctaw_ahe_wordsWe are fortunate to have dictionaries of some of the languages of Native Americans Southeastern North America recorded in the early nineteenth century and even earlier, before much of that information was lost.

Consider downloading a digital copy of this 1915 volume A Dictionary of the Choctaw Language, available free from the Internet Archive.