Village life at SunWatch probably went on for about twenty years, a long time compared to the tiny hamlets of earlier Ohio cultures. When local resources, like firewood and fertile soil, were used up, it made sense to go build another village elsewhere. A model in the museum shows the village’s concentric rings: the fence, houses, storage pits, burials, and central plaza. The fence might have been meant for defense, but just as likely for keeping children or certain animals in, or other animals out.

Just inside the fence, twenty-five to thirty houses originally stood. A few of them had special uses: the Big House was a kind of community center; another was a men’s lodge. The rest were dwellings, and similar artifacts were found in them – except for the pottery, which provides a clue to the village social organization. Andy Sawyer:

We’re finding different ceramic design patterns clustered in different quadrants of the site. And with the historic American Indian groups in the region, ceramic design and production was what the women would take care of, and those design elements tended to be used by specific families and lineages. What that suggests to us, if we’re seeing those designs only in certain parts of the site, is that all the women who are related to each other lived in the same part of the village, which suggests a matrilineal, or even a matrilocal society.

Matrilineal societies trace ancestry through the mother’s side, and in matrilocal societies, young couples settle near the mother of the bride. So life at SunWatch was probably organized in four family-based social divisions or clans.

Dayton Area



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