cover of book

The Swift Creek Gift: Vessel Exchange on the Atlantic Coast
by Neill J. Wallis
University of Alabama Press, 2011
eISBN: 978-0-8173-8484-5 | Paper: 978-0-8173-5629-3 | Cloth: 978-0-8173-1717-1
Library of Congress Classification E78.G3W25 2011
Dewey Decimal Classification 975.8225


A unique dataset for studying past social interactions comes from Swift Creek Complicated Stamped pottery that linked sites throughout much of the Eastern Woodlands but that was primarily distributed over the lower Southeast. Although connections have been demonstrated, their significance has remained enigmatic. How and why were apparently utilitarian vessels, or the wooden tools used to make them, distributed widely across the landscape?

This book assesses Woodland Period interactions using technofunctional, mineralogical, and chemical data derived from Swift Creek Complicated Stamped sherds whose provenience is fully documented from both mortuary mounds and village middens along the Atlantic coast. Together, these data demonstrate formal and functional differences between mortuary and village assemblages along with the nearly exclusive occurrence of foreign-made cooking pots in mortuary contexts. The Swift Creek Gift provides insight into the unique workings of gift exchanges to transform seemingly mundane materials like cooking pots into powerful tools of commemoration, affiliation, and ownership.

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