Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Hodges, Denise C.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Femur; Agriculture; Prehistoric--Illinois; Human remains (Archaeology)--Illinois


Geometric characteristics of femoral cross-sections were compared across populations which span the transition from hunting and gathering to intense maize agriculture in Illinois. The relationship between subsistence strategy and cross-sectional geometry is extremely complex. Regional variability in access to resources, technology, and culture precludes the application of a single model to all populations. Therefore, changes in femoral cross-sections must be understood on a populational and regional basis. Recent analysis of archaeological sites in eastern North America, including Illinois, suggests that prehistoric populations were domesticating native plant species as early as the Late Archaic. Femoral cross-sections of Middle/Late Archaic, Middle Woodland, and Mississippian skeletal samples were analyzed to understand how the early adoption of food producing economies affected changes in activity pattern across temporal groups. Changes in individual activity level spanning the development of intense agriculture in Illinois did not follow a linear trajectory. Rather, activity patterns increased across the Composite Archaic to Middle Woodland samples and then decreased from the Middle Woodland to Mississippian sample. In addition, the expression of sexual dimorphism in femoral cross-sections did not indicate significant differences between males and females across samples. Therefore, significant differences in the sexual division of labor, as reflected in femoral cross sections, did not accompany the development of intense maize agriculture in prehistoric Illinois. Based on the skeletal samples included in this study, the adoption of intense agriculture did not spark a general decrease in activity pattern. The Composite Archaic and Mississippian samples exhibited similar levels of individual activity. This is attributed to the role of native seed plants in the subsistence strategy of Archaic populations. Although seed plants were a peripheral component of the Archaic subsistence base, their impact on Archaic activity pattern was similar to the affect of maize agriculture on Mississippian populations. Activity levels in prehistoric Illinois were the most intense during the Middle Woodland period. Apparently, the practice of horticulture sparked an increase in individual activity. These behavioral differences are explained by associating general subsistence-related activities with each temporal group. This information contributes to our understanding of how economic changes affected prehistoric lifeways.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [104]-116)


xii, 116 pages




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