By Timothy R. Pauketat

This booklet sweeps away the final vestiges of social-evolutionary causes of 'chiefdoms' through rethinking the historical past of Pre-Columbian Southeast peoples and evaluating them to old peoples within the Southwest, Mexico, Mesoamerica, and Mesopotamia.

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In the end, many different people continuously built mound meanings and functions, including those in attendance at huge certain public ceremonies and those with varying memories of what mounds meant. At Cahokia, at least, this was happening before pan-eastern Mississippian patterns had been established (see chapter 4). The mound builders probably came from many different backgrounds, with at least as many different understandings of what earthen construction meant. So the mounds were not simply reflections of political institutions as they were.

In the early 1970s, after James Griffin stacked with New Archaeologists the Museum of Anthropology, which was located across campus from the department, the full power of the force dealing with early civilizations now included Henry Wright, Jeff Parsons, Kent Flannery, Richard Ford, and Karl Hutterer. Their archaeology graduate students tooled up in both the department and the museum in courses such as Sahlins’s seminar on Hawaiian state formation in 1970. Among the students in that seminar were several who would go on to produce the new “classics” in the chiefdom–state literature: Elizabeth Brumfiel, Timothy Earle, and Susan Kus.

Ah,” I said, and walked off. No reason to think that I could engage this guy in an interesting two-way conversation. But later I thought about his lecture. Dr. Science actually seemed to concede—unintentionally, like all evolutionists—that archaeologists can’t find the institutions themselves. Institutions have material correlates, they’d say, but are themselves immaterial (Pauketat 2003a). And yet such archaeologists want to believe that institutions, once evolved, are permanent and irreducible such that they determine subsequent social evolutionary developments.

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