The the core of the Hopewell origins (Pauketat 2012;

The
artifact rich burial mounds, and remarkable geometric earthworks of the southern
Ohio Hopewell societies

            Archaeological and geological
observations suggest the social network of the Hopewell tradition succeeded the
Adena tradition (Early Woodlands period) 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 Ohio Hopewell econiche identified in southern
Ohio river valleys, east from the Muskingum River, through the Bush Creek and
Scioto River Basins, and west to the Great and Little Miamis River Basin,
constitutes the core of the Hopewell origins (Pauketat 2012; Pacheco 1996). This
hypothetical deduction is only introduced to illustrate the intrinsic, though
possibly subsidiary, value of the Ohio Hopewell econiche as a frame of
reference for the widely dispersed groups engaged in the Hopewell Interactive
Sphere, as they were not representative of a single culture or society, but individual
transegaltarian communities that, to greater and lesser degrees, participated
in reciprocal trade with each other. The only common observation that
delineates the Hopewell of the Middle Woodland period is their propensity for
major river valley dwelling (Panketat 2012).

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The
prehistoric Ohio Hopewell settlements that 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, making a presence and exchange of rare
prestigeous materials 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 analysis
of archaeological observations will make it easier to interpret whether or not
large numbers of Hopewell groups participated in recurrant gatherings, than it
will be to interpret the exact purpose of why such events occurred, if indeed
they did.

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