Exploring a Biocultural Model of Resiliency in the lower Illinois River Valley from Middle to Late Woodland Periods
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The purpose of this study was to describe and explore a biocultural model of resilience, and to test how Resilience Theory could be applied to small-scale prehistoric populations. In order to accomplish these goals, the adult Middle and Late Woodland skeletons from the Elizabeth site in west central Illinois were examined for the nonspecific stress indicators of linear enamel hypoplasia, tibial periostosis, and changes to average stature. Both adult and non-adult Middle and Late Woodland burial contexts from the Elizabeth site were also examined in terms of burial posture and grave good inclusion. Meaningful patterns were identified using basic quantitative and qualitative methods within and across temporal periods by both biological sex and age cohorts. While the population appears to be in equilibrium from the Middle to Late Woodland periods from the perspective of “stress”, the regular trend from Middle to Late Woodland period in the lower Illinois River Valley is for increasing population size with decreasing inter-regional interactions. The changes in socio-cultural burial practices indicates an increase in connectedness at the Elizabeth site that, when paired with rising biological potential via increasing population and stable settlement patterns, signals a growing, resilient population leading into the conservation stage of the Adaptive Cycle.