Mississippian Mortuary Practices and the Quest for Interpretation

Lynne P. Sullivan and Lynne P. Mainfqrt Jr.

in Mississippian Mortuary Practices

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034263
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039619 | DOI:
Mississippian Mortuary Practices and the Quest for Interpretation

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Mississippian Period (ca. A.D. 900–1500) native peoples in the southeastern and midwestern United States are known for towns that typically include platform mounds and plazas and for elaborate and well-crafted copper and shell ornaments, pottery vessels, and stonework. Some of these objects were socially valued goods that often were placed in ritual contexts, such as graves, within or near Mississippian towns. The interment of elaborate funerary objects with some Mississippian individuals naturally led scholars to ask questions about social inequities in Mississippian societies. The intellectual bridges that connect archaeologically observed mortuary practices with the social behaviors of past populations are of significant interest to archaeologists, and the study of Mississippian mortuary sites was instrumental in the development of archaeological mortuary theory. New perspectives, such as the notions of cultural pluralism that inform the interpretation of diverse ethnic groups bound together at Cahokia or interpretations of burial rituals as theatrical ideological tableaus, are influencing the interpretations of Mississippian social practices.

Keywords: Mississippian Period; ethnic groups; United States; mounds; graves; interment; funerary objects; burial rituals; social practices; mortuary practices

Chapter.  5012 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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