Peoples of the Northwest Coast: Their Archaeology and Prehistory

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9780500050910: Peoples of the Northwest Coast: Their Archaeology and Prehistory

America's Northwest Coast is one of the richest and most distinct cultural areas on earth, extending some 1400 miles from Alaska to northern California. The region is famous for the magnificent art--masks, totem poles, woven blankets--produced by the ancient world's most politically and economically complex hunters and gatherers. For well over a century the area has been the focus of intensive ethnographic and art historical research, yet a distorted picture has arisen of a static society, a "people without a history." Only now, thanks to recent archaeological fieldwork, are scholars recovering that history. As this pioneering account shows, the history of settlement on the Northwest Coast stretches back some eleven thousand years. With the stabilization of sea levels after 4000 B.C., many of the region's salient features began to emerge. Salmon fishing supported rapid population growth to a peak over one thousand years ago, and the available trees such as red cedar could be used for vast houses and seaworthy canoes. Large households and permanent villages emerged alongside slavery and a hereditary nobility. Warfare became endemic, initially hand-to-hand, but later characterized by the development of fortresses and the bow and arrow. Art evolved from simple carvings and geometric designs to the specialized crafts of the modern era.

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About the Author:

Kenneth Ames is Professor of Anthropology at Portland State University. Herbert Maschner is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Review:

Shows that archaeology is now providing vast amounts of information about these fascinating cultures. -- American Archaeology

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Ames, Kenneth M., Maschner, Herbert D. G
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Ames, Kenneth M.; Maschner, Herbert D. G.
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