John H. Blitz is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alabama. An archeologist, his current research is on the evolutionary implications of skeuomorphs, artifact attributes that were once functional but, through time, change to nonfunctional decoration. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Complexity and the Bow in the Eastern Woodlands
Article first published online: 17 JUN 2013
Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews
Volume 22, Issue 3, pages 89–95, May/June 2013
How to Cite
Blitz, J. H. and Porth, E. S. (2013), Social Complexity and the Bow in the Eastern Woodlands. Evol. Anthropol., 22: 89–95. doi: 10.1002/evan.21349
- Issue published online: 17 JUN 2013
- Article first published online: 17 JUN 2013
- projectile point;
- Late Woodland period
Bingham and Souza have presented an evolutionary theory that specifies a causal relationship between the advent of powerful projectile weapons such as the bow and radical rearrangements in social relations and histories. They propose that the acquisition of weapons that permitted humans to kill at ever-increasing distances provided the coercive means to suppress conflicts of interest among nonkin, self-interested individuals in social groups, thus paving the way for greater social complexity. An unprecedented reduction in projectile point size identifies the arrival of the bow ca. A.D. 300 in the Eastern Woodlands of North America, which initiated a causal chain of cultural changes. In the Midwest, the bow, combined with food production, precipitated the decline of Hopewell by conferring household autonomy and dispersal, which at first suppressed social complexity, but later created conditions favorable to maize intensification. In the lower Southeast, where food production was unimportant, populations aggregated at concentrated wild-food sources, and the bow did not confer household autonomy. The relationship between the bow and social complexity varied under different environmental, social, and historical conditions.