Stuart Nealis: Assessing Prehistoric Labor Relations Through a Geoarchaeological Study of the Portsmouth Earthworks

Grants and Contracts Details


This research assesses the labor relations and political control present in the prehistoric groups that constructed the Portsmouth Earthworks in what is now southern Ohio and northern Kentucky approximately two thousand years ago. These earthen monuments enclose large spaces and span miles of terrain on both sides of the Ohio River, suggesting a significant labor pool and leadership were required for their construction, despite the archaeological evidence from that period in time that shows no institutionalized power structure or hierarchy. Approaching earthen construction using geophysical survey and geoarchaeological analysis of sediment and soil core samples will allow us to determine the speed and duration of building episodes, and in so doing serve as a proxy for determining the approximate size of the labor pool that was required to build such monumental cultural landscapes as well as the leadership that inherently was needed to bring such large groups of people together for a common task. This approach to studying political economic interactions in non-stratified societies is important where market economy and prestige goods exchange are not well-established. Additionally, this research provides new and significant data for assessing the beginnings of structural inequality and institutionalized leadership positions in the past.
Effective start/end date7/14/147/31/15


  • Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research: $11,080.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.