Ohio History Journal

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews



An Archeological History of the Hocking Valley. By James Murphy. (Athens:

Ohio University Press, 1975. xi + 360p.; illustrations, tables, figures, ap-

pendix, index. $15.00.)


In the past the major portion of the archaeological literature for Ohio has

been derived from work done in the central, southern and southwestern parts

of the state; that situation is currently changing for the better. In An Archeolog-

ical History of the Hocking Valley, James Murphy broadens our knowledge of

prehistoric Ohio Indian cultures by presenting a comprehensive view of an

area extensively inhabited throughout the prehistoric era but poorly recorded

or understood. It is a logical outgrowth of a brief survey by Murphy and

Orrin Shane published in 1967, and incorporates data from Murphy's own in-

vestigations in the Athens area as well as that of other archaeologists.

The book begins with a "note" on nomenclature which quickly develops into

a detailed (14 pages long) disagreement with the way in which Olaf Prufer

and Shane have used various terms in their theoretical constructs. Such a

chapter is more suitable as a separate article in one of the archaeological

journals rather than a book that is expected to have an appeal to a fairly

wide audience. The reader will, however, be frustrated in any attempt to delve

further into the works Murphy is criticizing, since the list of references that

accompanies every other chapter is missing from this section.

The next three chapters introduce the Hocking River valley, its history,

its resources and the previous archaeological work that has been carried on

there. The section on the origin of the name "Hocking" ably demonstrates

the problems of the varying interpretations of Indian words. The Primitive

Environment chapter introduces the geology, pedology, flora, and fauna of the

Hocking valley; the descriptions of the various flint sources in the area are

particularly detailed. The third chapter of this section discusses the small

group of nineteenth and early twentieth century archaeologists working in the

Hocking valley, many of whom described sites that are no longer in existence.

Their work and observations, crude as they sometimes were, are valuable be-

cause they are often the only records we have.

The remainder of the book is devoted to descriptions of the various cultural

traditions whose presence has been documented in the Hocking area-the

Palaeo-Indians, Archaic, Early Woodland (Adena), Middle Woodland (Hope-

well), Late Woodland, Late Prehistoric, and historic Indians. A special chap-

ter addresses the numerous rockshelters that are particularly characteristic

of the Hocking valley. Each section is introduced by a summary of the more

recent literature on the particular tradition, followed by a discussion of the

evidence for that group in the study area. In some instances, Murphy pre-

sents data on sites he has excavated himself while in other cases he merely

describes the work and collections of others. Of particular interest is the re-

port on the Daines mounds in Athens, one of which, Daines #2, provided

fragments of corn cob, suggesting that the Adena were familiar with this cul-

tigen in the third century B.C. The book ends with a short discussion of the

historic period, treating some of the American Indian as well as Euro-Ameri-

can sites such as Fort Gower. The single appendix follows with brief descrip-