The Prehistory of Missouri is a fascinating examination of the objects that were made, used, and discarded or lost by Missouri's prehistoric inhabitants over a period of more than eleven thousand years. Missouri's numerous vegetation zones and its diverse topography encompassed extreme variations, forcing prehistoric populations to seek a wide range of adaptations to the natural environment. As a result, Missouri's archaeological record is highly complex, and it has not been fully understood despite the vast amount of fieldwork that has been conducted within the state's borders. Michael J. O'Brien and W. Raymond Wood explore the array of artifacts that have been found in Missouri, pinpointing minute variations in form. They have documented the ranges in age and distribution of the individual forms, explaining why some persisted while others quickly disappeared. The book provides a comprehensive survey of what is currently known about Missouri's prehistoric peoples, often revealing how they made their living in an ever-changing world. The authors have applied rigorous standards of archaeological inquiry. Their main objective - demonstrating that the archaeological record of Missouri can be explained in scientific terms - is accomplished.
Michael J. O'Brien is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he is also Director of the Museum of Anthropology and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Science. His other books include Paradigms of the Past: The Story of Missouri Archaeology, Cat Monsters and Head Pots: The Archaeology of Missouri's Pemiscot Bayou, and (with R. Lee Lyman) James A. Ford and the Growth of Americanist Archaeology (University of Missouri Press). W. Raymond Wood is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Prehistoric Man and His Environments: A Case Study in the Ozark Highland and Anthropology on the Great Plains.