Chapter

Mortuary Practices and Cultural Identity at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century in Eastern Tennessee

Lynne P. Sullivan and Michaelyn S. Harle

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813034263.003.0012
Mortuary Practices and Cultural Identity at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century in Eastern Tennessee

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Mortuary practices can provide insights into ritual and into differentiation across social dimensions such as gender and status. But just as differences in pottery styles may not correlate directly with social boundaries, differences in mortuary practices alone may not reflect difference in cultural identity. This essay examines multiple dimensions of mortuary practices observed at two contemporaneous late Mississippian sites in order to revisit a long-standing discussion in the archaeology of Eastern Tennessee about the relationship and cultural identities of the Mouse Creek and Dallas phases. In the 1940s, Lewis and Kneberg (1946) correlated these archaeological complexes with differing cultural groups, the Yuchi and Creek, respectively. For this exploratory study, several cultural practices (especially those that can be discerned from mortuary practices) of two contemporary groups — the mid- to late-fifteenth-century inhabitants of the Fains Island and Ledford Island sites — are compared.

Keywords: Eastern Tennessee; cultural identity; mortuary practices; archaeology; cultural groups; Yuchi; Creek; archaeological complexes; Fains Island; Ledford Island

Chapter.  4965 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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