Middle Woodland Period Settlement Hierarchy in the Etowah River Valley**


During the Middle Woodland Period (300 BC – AD 600), large burial mounds became religious centers in many areas along major rivers throughout Southeastern United States. This cultural period witnessed an advance of communication and trade to different areas of the East Coast. These centers provide information into how social networks and hierarchies worked in the form of goods traded along rivers and where people lived in proximity to these centers. The Leake Site, located in the Etowah River Valley in north Georgia, is regarded as a major ceremonial center, but is debated in terms of whether it served a singular role as an economic hub or a dual one in which it served both and economic and ceremonial (pilgrimage) one. Identifying the size and geographic location of archaeological sites surrounding Leake is used to determine whether there was any settlement hierarchy in the region, with Leake at the apex, during Middle Woodland times. Specific artifacts which were usually traded amongst higher ranked individuals such as Swift Creek pottery and its distribution to different sites surrounding Leake points to what the habitants did or how they were used in a social setting.

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