Mound Sites of the Ancient South

Mound Sites of the Ancient South: A Guide to the Mississippian Chiefdoms

ERIC E. BOWNE
FOREWORD BY CHARLES M. HUDSON
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n8dt
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Mound Sites of the Ancient South
    Book Description:

    From approximately AD 900 to 1600, ancient Mississippian culture dominated today's southeastern United States. These Native American societies, known more popularly as moundbuilders, had populations that numbered in the thousands, produced vast surpluses of food, engaged in longdistance trading, and were ruled by powerful leaders who raised large armies. Mississippian chiefdoms built fortified towns with massive earthen structures used as astrological monuments and burial grounds. The remnants of these cities-scattered throughout the Southeast from Florida north to Wisconsin and as far west as Texas-are still visible and awe-inspiring today. This heavily illustrated guide brings these settlements to life with maps, artists' reconstructions, photos of artifacts, and historic and modern photos of sites, connecting our archaeological knowledge with what is visible when visiting the sites today. Anthropologist Eric E. Bowne discusses specific structures at each location and highlights noteworthy museums, artifacts, and cultural features. He also provides an introduction to Mississippian culture, offering background on subsistence and settlement practices, political and social organization, warfare, and belief systems that will help readers better understand these complex and remarkable places. Sites include Cahokia, Moundville, Etowah, and many more. A Friends Fund Publication

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4577-2
    Subjects: Archaeology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Charles Hudson

    Eric bowne has written a guide to what remains of the ancient world that existed in the American South from about AD 1000 to the 1600s. Many people have conceptions of ancient worlds that existed in their homelands before them. This is true of Europeans who learn in school about the world of ancient Greeks and Romans. Mexicans learn in school about the ancient Aztec world that once held sway in their homeland. And the same is true of Peruvians, who are quite aware of the world of the ancient Incas. Many other examples from around the world could be...

  4. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. MISSISSIPPIAN SITES AND MUSEUMS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. [Maps]
    (pp. xv-xix)
  8. CHAPTER ONE THE ANCIENT SOUTH
    (pp. 1-13)

    What follows is a guide to the late prehistoric native peoples of the American South, particularly a group of societies known collectively to scholars as Mississippian chiefdoms. The concept “chiefdom” refers specifically and exclusively to societies characterized by the hereditary transfer of leadership positions and by a social system that included both elites and commoners but that had not reached the size or complexity of a state. The chiefdoms of the Ancient South were dubbed “Mississippian” because their way of life first developed in the wide Mississippi River Valley, where the largest Mississippian site was built at a place called...

  9. CHAPTER TWO THE MISSISSIPPIAN WORLD
    (pp. 15-61)

    During the height of the Mississippian period, in the thirteenth century, there were at least fifty large Mississippian chiefdoms and many small ones scattered throughout the Ancient South, and the total population of the region was at least several hundred thousand. Despite the tremendous linguistic and cultural diversity among these societies, there were enough similarities to allow them to have more than a basic understanding of one another. A number of general Mississippian traits constitute a setting that can rightly be referred to as the Mississippian world. This chapter explores important aspects of this nearly lost world, including subsistence practices,...

  10. CHAPTER THREE THE EMERGENT AND EARLY MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD, AD 800–1200
    (pp. 63-107)

    The mississippi valley region around modern St. Louis was the heartland of the Mississippian way of life. During the tenth century, people there came to depend on corn supplemented by squash and other minor domesticates as the staple of their diet (beans were not widely used in the Ancient South until the thirteenth century). In addition to this new crop, people accepted the leadership of certain lineages that had come to be seen as closely connected with the gods. Under the direction of members of these elite lineages, the rest of the population began construction on the town of Cahokia,...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR THE MIDDLE MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD, AD 1200–1400
    (pp. 109-177)

    The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries have justifiably been referred to as the high point of Mississippian culture, the period of its greatest geographic extent. Cahokia attained its peak near the beginning of this period, as did many other large and impressive Mississippian chiefdoms, including Etowah, Moundville, Spiro, and Winterville. Mississippian artwork, including a set of “international” symbols based on the cosmology of Cahokia, reached the height of its development between 1200 and 1400 as well. In addition, one of the common problems of the previous period was somewhat mitigated — the adoption of beans added much-needed protein to the diets of...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE THE LATE MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD, AD 1400–1600
    (pp. 179-209)

    The climatic upheaval of the Little Ice Age and the social and political upheaval of the late fourteenth century continued into the fifteenth century. In some cases, these factors combined to have devastating effects — for example, almost the entire Savannah River Valley in Georgia was abandoned between 1400 and 1450. Other areas experienced similar occurrences; the chiefdoms west of the Mississippi River were hit particularly hard. The Mississippian world was not disappearing, but changing. New, far-flung, powerful chiefdoms developed throughout the Ancient South during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Some of those societies emerged in areas previously home...

  13. CHAPTER SIX THE DECLINE OF THE MISSISSIPPIAN WORLD
    (pp. 211-222)

    What happened to the Mississippian chiefdoms of the Ancient South? There is no simple answer. But it is possible to identify some factors that led to the abandonment of the Mississippian way of life. The first was the invasion of the Ancient South by Europeans ultimately bent on conquering and colonizing. Their exploratory military forays, or entradas, as the Spanish referred to them, inflicted not only physical casualties but mental ones as well. That is to say, European expeditions undermined the authority of Mississippian chiefs and forced commoners to question the efficacy of their leaders. The second factor, more disruptive...

  14. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 223-228)
  15. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 229-240)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 241-247)