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By Lynne P. Sullivan

The citizens of Mississippian cities mostly situated within the southeastern and midwestern usa from 900 to 1500 A.D. made many appealing items, which integrated complicated and well-crafted copper and shell adorns, pottery vessels, and stonework. a few of these gadgets have been socially valued items and sometimes have been positioned in ritual context, akin to graves. The funerary context of those artifacts has sparked enormous learn and debate between archaeologists, elevating questions about where in society of the contributors interred with such goods, in addition to the character of the societies during which those humans lived. by means of concentrating on how mortuary practices function symbols of ideals and values for the residing, the members to "Mississippian Mortuary Practices" discover how burial of the useless displays and reinforces the cosmology of particular cultures, the prestige of residing contributors within the burial rite, ongoing family relationships, and different facets of social association.

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Extra resources for Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationaist Perspective

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1050. At that time, as I have argued at length elsewhere, pre-Mississippian corporate groups were transmogrified into or replaced by discrete household groups at and around early Cahokia (Pauketat 1994, 2004). Entire neighborhoods at Cahokia may have focused on certain activities more than others, and large-scale ceremonial events in plazas seem to have involved feasts, religious objects, ancestral bones, craft production, temple renewals, woodenpost emplacements and removals, and (probably) mound construction (based on evidence in Pauketat et al.

Brown Figure 10). 1). French observers reported that the skeletonized remains—presumably of the Natchez elite—were placed in baskets kept within the principal shrine (Swanton 1911). However, the relatively articulated burials in the contact period summit floor of this mound were evidently never exhumed. They were not disinterred, processed, and converted into treatments of bone resembling the bundles that historic observers have described (Brown 1971; Lorant 1946; Lorenz 1997, 2000). But however one interprets the deposition of skeletons and grave goods at the summit of the postcontact Natchez Mound C, it is clear that the remains were not ordered in any discernable way.

With that in mind, I turn now to a brief examination of a series of remarkable mortu- 18 Timothy R. Pauketat ary contexts and associated commemorative practices at early Mississippian places, giving most of my attention to greater Cahokia’s ridgetop mounds. These mortuary contexts, I argue, are among the most significant causes of the Mississippian phenomenon as a differentially experienced and interpreted political-religious development that spanned the eastern United States. Early Mississippian Entombments Several early Mississippian places in eastern North America are associated with unusual mortuary features, singular interments, log tombs, or verticalpost structures that sometimes appear to have contained the remains of multiple bodies.

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