Archaeological 3000-2600 BP marked the disappearance of the

            Archaeological and geological
observations suggest the social network of the Hopewell phenomenon developed
around the Great Lakes, and the numerous river valley systems in the eastern
and midwestern United States after a global climatic incident ca. 3000-2600 BP marked
the disappearance of the cultural groups identified with the Archaic period. The
impact of the climate change incident produced prolonged and lingering flooding
in the southern portion of the United States, specifically with flood plains effected
by the Mississippi River system, rendering them uninhabitable for nearly a millennium
(Pauketat 2012). This geological observation supports the archaeological
observations that suggest the Hopewell groups of southern Ohio River tributary valleys,
east from the Muskingum River, through the Bush Creek and Scioto region, and
west to the Great and Little Miamis River Basins, constitute the core of the
Hopewell origins (Pauketat 2012; Pacheco 1996).

The
Hopewell tradition developed during the Middle Woodland period of the late Prehistoric
cultural stage between 2100 and 1600 BCE, and numerous regional expressions of
Hopewell tradition stretched east to west from New York, around the Great
Lakes, across to Nebraska, and north to south from Minnesota to Mississippi. These
regionally dispersed transegalitarian societies of Hopewell tradition were interconnected
through a complex reciprocal exchange network, referred to as the Hopewell
Interaction Sphere, that could have served to facilitate intermittent gatherings
for trade of prestigious resources, or ritualistic purposes. But as Karine Taché
(2011: 6) addresses, the primary function of the interaction networks that
developed during the Woodland period, and became progressively more complex as
the period developed, could have been to intensify and stabilize the local
subsistence systems by generating reciprocal obligations between the different
groups. In this scenario, the main purpose of the occasional aggregation of
groups within the interaction sphere would have been the movement of food goods,
including the likelihood of sharing knowledge on intensification practices, needed
to support the ever increasing population numbers, and a presence and exchange
of rare prestigeous materials could have been a by-product of the event. Many ethnographic
analogies from various regions around the world describe transegaltarian indigenous
communities that traveled great distances to participate in large gatherings
with groups from different regions (Binford 2001; Taché 2011). The
characteristics of these recurrent, and multiethnic events archaeologically
translate into large sites with deep deposits that support evidence of multiple
reoccupations. If the communities within the Hopewell Interaction Sphere were engaging
in large, recurring gatherings to create reciprocal obligations for increasing subsistence
stability, trade of exotic raw materials, ritualistic activities, or all three,
there could be recorded archaeological observations that support the concept. In
that if the archaeological record is inconclusive, or appears incomplete, the analysis
of ethnographic and environmental data from the Hopewell region in the Binford database
might direct observations to a more conclusive outcome (Binford 2001: 44, 46). Although,
it is a reasonable prediction that archaeological and spatial analysis will
make it less challenging to interpret whether or not large numbers of Hopewell groups
participated in recurring gatherings, than it will be to interpret the exact purpose
of why such events occurred, if in deed they did.

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