Protohistoric Fort Ancient Social and Climatic Adaptation at the Wynema Site (33Ha837)

by Joseph C. Shaffer

Institution: University of Cincinnati
Department: Arts and Sciences: Anthropology
Degree: MA
Year: 2014
Keywords: Archaeology; floodplain; Wynema; Little Miami River; Hamilton County
Record ID: 2025091
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ucin1397734874


Wynema (33Ha837) is a significant Late Fort Ancient, Madisonville Horizon habitation site recently discovered in a shovel testing, solid sediment coring, and geophysical survey of the floodplain of the Lower Little Miami River in Hamilton County, Ohio. Chronometrically, Wynema site dates to a period of catastrophic social and climatic change for indigenous populations in North America. The Little Ice Age (ca 1350-1850 C.E.) coincided with European conquest and colonization, which resulted in genocide, ethnocide, ecocide, and a suite of new and deadly diseases. Late Fort Ancient artifacts and features exposed in a recent excavation are used to test hypotheses derived from human evolutionary ecology and optimal foraging theory. Laboratory analysis of vertebrate and invertebrate food remains, flaked-stone artifacts, and indigenous and European trade goods provide economic information about the underlying mechanisms of how Late Fort Ancient people adapted and sustained their livelihood during a period of social and climatic stress. The inhabitants of the Wynema site maximized caloric intake and minimized caloric loss by dispatching a wide range of large and small vertebrates as well as vulnerable juvenile, aged, and sick individuals. Extensive butchering and food processing activity of both vertebrate and invertebrate species further maximized caloric intake. Caloric loss was also minimized in the primary procurement and heat-treatment of poor-quality local lithic raw material resources. Long distance trade with indigenous and European populations likely helped to reduce risk of caloric loss and increase social ties.