Merrell defines the conditions of the New World as “a dramatically different milieu demanding basic changes in ways of life” (Merrell, 538). The Siouan Indians of the piedmont region of North Carolina were in continuous contact with European newcomers since the mid-1500’s. Their practices during this time period reflects an effort to avoid extinction and “eschewing retreat”(Merrell, 539).
Analysis of ceramic materials were uncovered at this Upper Saratown site revealing several “cross-mends” between sherds from earth ovens and sherds found in storage pits (Twiss, 23). Twiss states that these findings indicate that several pits were in use simultaneously and then “rapidly filled with trash” (Twiss, 23). Eastman contends that the quantity of food that remains recovered from these multiple-pit facilities is “too great to represent mere family consumption” (10). Both researchers suggest that these sequences correspond with seasonal renewal rituals resembling mourning ceremonies and intensified during the Middle Contact period (A.D. 1650-1670) at Upper Saratown (Twiss, 22). More and more larger potsherds were discovered that refit into larger vessel sections, implying that people intentionally broke these vessels (Twiss, 23). Twiss argues that some vessels must have have been “ritually killed” at community events (Twiss, 23).
The 16th century was a period “marked by death and social disruption” for the Siouan Indians of the piedmont (Twiss, 23). Eastman interprets this increase in ceramic and culinary mourning rituals as “a more drastic means of purification and renewal” (Eastman, 10).
Merrell, James H. “The Indians’ New World: The Catawba Experience.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 4, 1984, pp. 538–565. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1919153.
Twiss, Katheryn C. The Archaeology of Food and Identity. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 2007, p. ix, [iii], 340 p. : ill., maps.