The archaeology of houses and households in the native Southeast
Steere, Benjamin Allen
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This research is a preliminary attempt to understand how houses and households changed in the Southeastern United States from the Woodland to the Historic Indian Period (ca. 200 B.C. to A.D. 1800). The primary study area is the Southern Appalachian region, with comparative cases from farther afield. Most studies of domestic architecture in the Southeast are conducted at the single-site scale. Broader patterns of variation in houses and households are not well understood. To address this problem, I use a database that catalogs the architectural features of 1258 structures from 65 sites to identify broad spatial and temporal patterns of variation in domestic architecture, including region-wide changes in the size and spacing of houses, increasing architectural investment, and the increasing partitioning of houses over time. Using a theoretical framework developed from household archaeology and anthropology, I argue that certain aspects of architectural variation can be explained by changes in household economics and household composition, symbolic behavior, status differentiation, and settlement patterning. More generally, I propose that large-scale patterns of diachronic and synchronic variation in domestic architecture are best explained by changes in social organization.