Natchez Bluffs Cuisine and the Transition to Maize Agriculture (AD 750-1500)Public Deposited
Add to collection
You do not have access to any existing collections. You may create a new collection.
Downloadable ContentDownload PDF
MLAGraham, Anna Fuller. Natchez Bluffs Cuisine and the Transition to Maize Agriculture (ad 750-1500). 2023. https://doi.org/10.17615/wq8x-1k89
APAGraham, A. (2023). Natchez Bluffs Cuisine and the Transition to Maize Agriculture (AD 750-1500). https://doi.org/10.17615/wq8x-1k89
ChicagoGraham, Anna Fuller. 2023. Natchez Bluffs Cuisine and the Transition to Maize Agriculture (ad 750-1500). https://doi.org/10.17615/wq8x-1k89
Graham, Anna Fuller
- Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
- This dissertation investigates the relationship between food and social identity for Native groups in the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) during the transition to maize agriculture. The intensification of maize agriculture in the LMV is notable because it occurred several hundred years after surrounding regions. Previous studies have focused on why LMV communities adopted maize, ignoring how maize was added to existing foodways. Data from ceramics and plant remains from communal gathering spaces at six sites in the Natchez Bluffs region—Feltus (22Je500), Smith Creek (22Wk526), Center’s Creek (22Cb518), Bayou Pierre (22Cb534), Lessley (22Wk504), and Fatherland (22Ad501)—support the conclusion that communities in the region had a longstanding shared cuisine. Notably, these sites span the periods before and after maize was introduced and intensified (AD 750–1500), indicating that maize was an addition, rather than a disruption, to existing cuisine practices. Plant data indicate that Natchez Bluffs communities relied on a mixture of nuts and starchy seeds, some of which were cultivated. The types and amounts of plant foods used does not dramatically change following the intensification of maize, indicating continuity in cuisine staples. Ceramic evidence reveals that the forms and sizes of ceramic vessel that communities used to cook and serve their food was consistent through time, suggesting people adapted maize to existing cooking techniques and routines. Taken together, the plant and ceramic evidence demonstrate a consistent cuisine through time, as communities made use of similar types of ingredients and cooking styles despite the addition of maize. While the content of cuisine was not considerably altered, ceramic evidence and contextual data indicate that the performance of community meals shifted from humble and integrative to fancy and prestige-building over time. Differences in use-wear patterns on bowls from pre- and post-maize contexts suggest changes in how and where the meal was prepared. Additionally, large serving vessels, which were primarily plain and undecorated in the pre-maize periods, are elaborately decorated in post-maize contexts. Contextual data also indicate that some portion of the community began living in these gathering spaces in the post-maize period. I interpret these lines of evidence together as indicating that communal meals had taken on a prestige-building component for host communities. I argue that these findings demonstrate that a shared cuisine tradition remained important to Natchez Bluffs communities, despite shifting social relationships. Overall, this project demonstrates the dynamic relationship between continuity and change within cuisine practices through time.
- Date of publication
- Resource type
- Rights statement
- In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted
- Steponaitis, Vincas P
- Scarry, Clara M
- Kassabaum, Megan C
- Davis, R.P. Stephen
- Arbuckle, Benjamin S
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Degree granting institution
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
- Graduation year
This work has no parents.