Kidder's research over the past 15 years has focused on archaeological study of the evolution of human societies in the Southeastern United States. He has been especially interested in the emergence of social ranking, the development of domesticated food crops and the causal (or potentially causal) relationship among and between these variables. He has also been exploring the relationship between humans and the dynamic landscape of the alluvial valley of the Mississippi Valley. His interest in geoarchaeology has led him to undertake studies of the evolution and chronology of the Holocene Mississippi River using archaeological data. His studies have also led into the fields of historical ecology and, more recently, climate history. A significant part of his recent research has turned to using geoarchaeological and geomorphic analyses to understand the dynamics of human settlement in the Mississippi River Valley. He is currently studying the hypothesis that global climate change ca. 1200-400 B.C. affected populations throughout eastern North America. Research in the Mississippi Valley has provided evidence for sudden and apparently catastrophic flooding. Evidence for this flooding comes from extensive geological and soils mapping, archaeological and stratigraphic investigations, and an extensive program of coring. This work is ongoing and will be expanded in the next few years. Another long-term interest is to explore the nature of social evolution in Native American societies with the goal of understanding the circumstances that led to periods of greater or lesser social and political complexity. The emergence and decline of mound building among Middle and Late Archaic cultures in eastern North America is an example of the waxing and waning of seemingly complex behavior that Kidder is exploring in greater detail. Towards this end, he is working at several Middle to Late Archaic mound sites in the Lower Mississippi Valley, including the well-known Poverty Point site in northeast Louisiana.


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