Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program


Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

David Browman


This dissertation is a contribution to the scientific study of archaeological fabrics and fiber use in the Ozark Plateau. Drawing from theoretical perspective based in an "anthropology of technology" I combine attribute analysis of 300 formal fabric artifacts and expedient fiber use, the paleoethnobotanical analysis of fiber and 17 radiocarbon dates, to addresses general and specific hypotheses regarding timing and distribution of fabric technologies and fiber use. These data form the foundation for the development of the first chronology for the Ozark Bluffshelter fabrics assemblage. Inferences regarding the presence and persistent of communities of practice indicate that the fabric traditions of the Ozark Plateau exhibit a complex and dynamic pattern of long-term stability and marked shifts over approximately 3,000 years, and demonstrate the presence of small amounts of non-local fabrics. I also contribute to the paleoethnobotany of technology by improving understanding of the micro-morphologic characteristics of plant fibers. Fiber identifications obtained during this study provide us with one of the few substantial datasets on the intensive and extensive use of specific fiber taxa across multiple categories of perishable materials in the Southeast. While fiber use is diverse, only a few genera are used consistently and in some cases selectively for fabric production. Finally, I also offer a deeper understanding of an important aspect of the cultural heritage of Southeastern people; the now largely extirpated canebrakes. This study substantiates the key role fiber plants in the everyday and even ceremonial aspects of Pre-Columbian life and the deep-time relationship that communities throughout the Southeast have had with the vital plant communities they are struggling to re-establish today.


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