The Materialization of Status and Social Structure at Koger’s Island Cemetery, Alabama

Jon Bernard Marcqux

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:
The Materialization of Status and Social Structure at Koger’s Island Cemetery, Alabama

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This essay addresses the current shift in explanatory frameworks used to interpret the mortuary practices of Mississippian societies by offering an alternative interpretation of the mortuary practices materialized at the Koger's Island site, a Mississippian cemetery located in the middle Tennessee River Valley of northern Alabama. It considers the interpretation of Christopher Peebles, who analyzed the Koger's Island cemetery using the Binford-Saxe mortuary program and the socio-evolutionary concept of the ranked society. It tests the relationship between social structure and mortuary practices by using a Binford-Saxe-type analysis that focuses on burial types, variability in the distribution of artifacts, and the spatial arrangement of graves within the Koger's Island cemetery. It concludes that the hierarchical status of individuals appears to have been based on achievement rather than inheritance. Based on the spatial distribution of interments and funerary objects, the mortuary practices of the local community were more likely structured by a form of dual social structure in that these practices marked either the membership of the deceased in one of two corporate kin groups or their status as an “outsider.”

Keywords: mortuary practices; Mississippian cemetery; Koger's Island; cemetery; Alabama; Christopher Peebles; Binford-Saxe mortuary program; social structure; artifacts; graves

Chapter.  7514 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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