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The Mississippian Emergence

Written by Bruce D. Smith

Publication Year: 2007

This collection, addressing a topic of ongoing interest and debate in American archaeology, examines the evolution of ranked chiefdoms in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States during the period A.D. 700–1200. The volume brings together a broad range of professionals engaged in the fieldwork that has vitalized the theoretical debates on the development of Mississippi Valley cultures. The initial chapter provides a general discussion of various explanations for the rise of these distinctive ranked societies in the eastern United States (A.D. 750-1050) and sets the stage for the interdisciplinary analysis from multiple viewpoints that follows. The first section discusses a cluster of individual sites in the Midwest and Southeast and reveals the parallel—and occasionally divergent—paths followed by the inhabitants as they transitioned from Late Woodland into Mississippian lifeways. The chapters in the second half discuss by region the emergence of ranked agricultural societies and examine how these networks played a role in the large-scale and roughly contemporaneous socio-political development.

C. Clifford Boyd Jr.
James A. Brown
R. P. Stephen Davis Jr.
John House
John E. Kelly
Richard A. Kerber
Dan F. Morse
Phyllis Morse
Martha Ann Rolingson
Gerald F. Schroedl
Bruce D. Smith
Paul D. Welch
Howard D. Winters

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. v-ix

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xiii

List of Tables

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p. xiv

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pp. xv-xvii

So here we have another volume drawn together by Bruce Smith on Mississippian societies. His Mississippian Settlement Patterns volume gave us in 1978 a general overview of Mississippian site demography across the Southeast, broadly considered. The volume in hand examines current knowledge about what has been a rather intractable subject for more than a century--Mississippian origins. ...

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pp. xix-xxxi

... When initially published in 1990, The Mississippian Emergence addressed what was then, and still remains, one of the major developmental puzzles confronting eastern North American archaeologists-the initial development of what could be termed primary Mississippian chiefdoms out of preexisting Late Woodland period tribal societies during the three-century span ...


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p. xxxii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-8

The broad and conceptually difficult terrain that stretches between tribal societies and state-level organizations (Feinman and Neitzel 1984) is often assigned the general label of "chiefdom" or "ranked society." The chiefdom concept still serves as a valuable abstract polity profile in studying societies that are neither egalitarian tribes nor states, and chiefdoms remain a quite ...

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2. Powell Canal: Baytown Period Adaption on Bayou Macon, Southeast Arkansas

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pp. 9-26

Phillips, Ford, and Griffin's (1951) archaeological survey in the lower alluvial valley of the Mississippi River in 1940-1947 had as one of its major goals the identification of pre-Mississippian cultures in a region that had come to be considered a "heartland" of Mississippian culture. By the conclusion of their research, a succession of pre-Mississippian "Baytown" cultural entities had been identified and Mississippian culture in the ...

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3. The Totec mounds Site: A Ceremonial Center in the Arkansas River Lowland

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pp. 27-49

The Toltec Mounds site was recognized as an important mound center as early as 1894, when it was included in the Report on Mound Explorations by the Bureau of Ethnology (Thomas 1894). Despite this early interest, scientific investigation did not begin until 1966. The size and arrangement of mounds at the site has been the basis for assigning it to the Mississippian period, although the Toltec artifact assemblage clearly is not ...

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4. The Zebree Siter: An Emerged Early Mississippian Experession in Northeast Arkansas

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pp. 51-66

The Zebree site is located in Mississippi County, Arkansas within the boundaries of the Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge. It is on an area of relatively high ground near the western edge of Big Lake itself, close to the Missouri state line (Fig. 11). The site is located on an old surface of an earlier braided Mississippi River stage. Typical lowland topography, including some prairie soils, the recent levee soils of Little River, and ...

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5. Range Site Community Patterns and the Mississippian Emergence

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pp. 67-112

Based on over sixty years of archaeological investigations' including twenty-five years of intensive field work, Cahokia and its satellite communities in the American Bottom have been shown to represent the most complex prehistoric sociopolitical system to have developed north of Mexico. A number of models have been proposed to explain how the Cahokia system initially developed. Those models developed prior to 1980 ...

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6. The Emergence of Mississippian Culture in the American Bottom Region

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pp. 113-152

East of the present day city of St. Louis, Missouri, the valley of the Mississippi River abruptly broadens to form the American Bottom, an area of approximately 800 sq km, which witnessed, from A.D. 600-1100, the development of the most complex prehistoric sociopolitical system known north of Mexico. In this chapter, I want to review previous explanatory models for this developmental process, and to offer an alternative ... developmental process, and to offer an alternative ...

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7. Emergent Mississippian in the Central Mississippi Valley

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pp. 153-173

The central Mississippi Valley, as defined here, is that part of the alluvial valley between the Ohio and Arkansas Rivers (Fig. 65). The region is laterally bordered by and includes part of the Ozark Highlands on the west and the uplands immediately east of the Mississippi River, which include the Chickasaw Bluffs. Constituting approximately 40,000 sq km, the Central Valley is essentially oval in shape and oriented ...

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8. Explaining Mississippian Origins in Est Tennessee

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pp. 175-196

T. M. N. Lewis and Madeline Kneberg (1946) made the first formal attempt to describe and explain the origins and development of Mississippian cultures in east Tennessee. Population migration was the basis for their explanation. Lewis and Kneberg's work was consistent with Webb's (1938) general approach to archaeological interpretation and his analyses of archaeological data ...

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9. Emergence in West-Central Alabama

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pp. 197-225

In west-central Alabama between A.D. 950 and 1100' a number of societal units changed from Late Woodland to Mississippian forms of organization. One of these units built the great Mississippian center at Moundville, with its 40 ha plaza and 20 large platform mounds. Moundville, however, was not the only Mississippian community in the area, and while much has been published about the nature of Moundville ...

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10. Mississippian Emergence in the Fort Walton Area: The Evolution of the Cayson and Lake Jackson Phases

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pp. 227-250

Explaining the emergence of social hierarchies and politically complex societies is one of the most intriguing of archaeological problems. The development of chiefdoms. hierarchical societies with one generalized type of political control, is one aspect of this problem. In chiefly societies political control (decision-making) is vested in a specialized subsystem of the society that is itself not internally specialized (Wright 1984:42). ...

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11. Trade and the Evolution of Relations at the Beginning of the Mississippian Period

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pp. 251-280

The subject of intergroup trade holds a minor place in Mississippian period archaeology. In only a handful of studies has this subject been related in any significant way to larger topics of economy, society, and ecology. As a consequence, it has been relegated to a subsidiary place in portrayals of the period (Griffin 1967, 1985). A measure of its unimportance is the short notice given ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384302
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817354527

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 664233653
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Mississippian Emergence

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Subject Headings

  • Mississippi River Valley -- Antiquities.
  • Southern States -- Antiquities.
  • Mississippian culture.
  • Indians of North America -- Southern States -- Antiquities.
  • Indians of North America -- Mississippi River Valley -- Antiquities.
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