From Quarry to Cornfield provides an innovative model for examining the technology of hoe production and its contribution to the agriculture of Mississippian communities.
Lithic specialist Charles Cobb examines the political economy in Mississippian communities through a case study of raw material procurement and hoe production and usage at the Mill Creek site on Dillow Ridge in southwest Illinois. Cobb outlines the day-to-day activities in a Mississippian chiefdom village that flourished from about A.D. 1250 to 1500. In so doing, he provides a fascinating window into the specialized tasks of a variety of “day laborers” whose contribution to the community rested on their production of stone hoes necessary in the task of feeding the village. Overlooked in most previous studies, the skills and creativity of the makers of the hoes used in village farming provide a basis for broader analysis of the technology of hoe use in Mississippian times.
Although Cobb’s work focuses on Mill Creek, his findings at this site are representative of the agricultural practices of Mississippian communities throughout the eastern United States. The theoretical underpinnings of Cobb’s study make a clear case for a reexamination of the accepted definition of chiefdom, the mobilization of surplus labor, and issues of power, history, and agency in Mississippian times. In a well-crafted piece of writing, Cobb distinguishes himself as one of the leaders in the study of lithic technology. From Quarry to Cornfield will find a well-deserved place in the ongoing discussions of power and production in the Mississippian political economy.