Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Archaeological investigations of social interaction at the community level provide insight into the daily lives of past people and the social structures that guide these community-level interactions. This dissertation uses paleoethnobotanical analysis to examine the nature of social identity negotiation and community at the site-level scale, using data from excavations at the Morton Village site (11F2). Morton Village is a Bold Counselor Oneota and Mississippian settlement in the Central Illinois River Valley (CIRV), occupied contemporaneously by both groups in the 14th century and identified as a multiethnic or multicultural village through the presence of two distinct types of ceramic remains. This dissertation examines Morton Village as the site of a multicultural community in the CIRV, and uses paleoethnobotanical data to investigate how social identities of Mississippian and Oneota villagers were negotiated. Paleoethnobotanical perspectives on issues of community and identity have much to offer archaeological understandings of these concepts. Plant use for food, medicine, construction, ritual or ceremony, and trading reflects the beliefs, choices, and traditions of past people at both daily domestic and ceremonial or ritual levels. Food is a salient aspect of identity and choices pertaining to food and cuisine can reflect membership in a social group through patterns of planting, harvesting, preparation, consumption, and discard. This study presents an analysis of plant remains from pit features external to structures and a feasting context, and provides an in-depth analysis of one particularly important taxon, tobacco. Specifically, this study addresses plant use variability among and between Oneota and Mississippian villagers in both domestic and special contexts to aid in understanding the role of food in social interaction at Morton Village, and to generate narratives of multicultural interaction at the community level. Results of this research indicate that Morton villagers, both Oneota and Mississippian, used similar plant taxa as part of daily and ceremonial life, but nuanced differences in plant use between groups is reported and analyzed. The data presented by this dissertation help to define Morton Village as a community in the sense that Morton Village is not a bounded, archaeological entity containing the remains of two separate material cultures, but is a dynamic social space where villagers of both Mississippian and Oneota affiliation actively negotiated their social roles and beliefs.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

T.R. Kidder

Committee Members

Gayle J. Fritz, Xinyi Liu, Helina Woldekiros, John E. Kelly,