Date of Award

May 2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ashley K Lemke

Committee Members

John D Richards, Robert J Sherman, Aaron R Comstock


Architecture, Ceramics, Community, Fort Ancient, Village Formation


How do people form communities, and how do these communities change, persist, interact, and re-form during times of dramatic social change? This dissertation is an analysis of two early Fort Ancient villages in southwest Ohio and southeast Indiana dating to the Late Precontact period. These sites represent some of the first appearances of villages in the Middle Ohio Valley, ca. AD 1050, and offer a case study in the development and social responses of people living in large, permanent settlements. The study examines these settlements for signs of communities that might exist within the village as well as signs of community uniting the village into a single social unit. Evidence for community was gathered through examination of village architecture and ceramic assemblages. Village architecture was examined through the spatial layout of structures, as well as the variation of key elements (construction style, size, treatment post-abandonment, etc.). The ceramic assemblages were characterized by their morphological attributes across each site. Combined these techniques the socially significant clusters of structures (neighborhoods) as well as the ceramic production communities within each village. The data presented in this dissertation characterized Early Fort Ancient villages as socially flexible units, able to deploy a suite of mechanisms of social integration specific to each village. At Guard, the village was freed of any geographic restrictions, people were physically arranged with equitable access to key locations of social importance yet maintained clear distinctions in access to social relationships. At Turpin, the village was restricted by a narrow, linear, landform created differential access to socially significant locations; however, the social relationships appear to have been to have been equitably shared across the village. At each location the villagers deployed a unique balance of access and restriction to create identities as a village as well as within their village.