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Reconstructing Tascalusa's Chiefdom

Pottery Styles and the Social Composition of Late Mississippian Communities along the Alabama River

Amanda L. Regnier

Publication Year: 2014

Reconstructing Tascalusa’ s Chiefdom is an archaeological study of political collapse in the Alabama River Valley following the Hernando de Soto expedition.

To explain the cultural and political disruptions caused by Hernando de Soto’ s exploration deep into north America, Amanda L. Regnier presents an analysis of ceramics and a novel theory of cultural exchange, which argues that culture consists of a series of interconnected models governing proper behavior that are shared across the belief systems of communities and individuals. An approach not often applied to archaeological research, ceramic study serves as a test of whether historic cognitive models can be extracted from ceramic data via cluster and correspondence analysis. In addition, the summary of Late Mississippian sites includes a chronology of the Alabama River from approximately AD 900 to 1600, which previously has only existed in manuscript form, and a summary of excavations at major Late Mississippian sites along the Alabama River.

The results of the study demonstrate that the Alabama River Valley was settled by populations migrating from three different geographic regions during the late fifteenth century. The mixture of ceramic models associated with all three traditions at Late Mississippian sites suggests that these newly founded towns had a distinct mix of ethnically and linguistically diverse populations. Based on the archaeological record, the polity controlled by Tascalusa appears to have been both multiethnic and newly formed. Perhaps most significantly, Tascalusa’ s chiefdom appears to be a pre-contact example of a coalescent society that emerged after populations migrated into a new region from the deteriorating Mississippian chiefdoms in their homelands.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright

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List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

During my years of research on Alabama River sites, I have accrued huge debts to so many people in so many places. First and foremost, I have to thank my graduate advisor Jim Knight for many years of guidance and support. I also offer my sincere thanks to the many University of Alabama faculty...

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1. The Problem of Tascalusa’s Chiefdom

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pp. 1-17

On Sunday, October 10, 1540, at a town along what is now the Alabama River, the worlds of a Native American chief and a Spanish conquistador collided. Although a vast cultural gap divided the two leaders, both would soon demonstrate a willingness to use any means necessary, especially brute...

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2. The Alabama River Valley from A.D. 900 to 1560

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pp. 18-49

The Alabama River begins with the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers, just six miles west of present-day Montgomery. From its beginning, it flows in a meandering course with a wide alluvial plain through the Fall Line Hills onto the Blackland Prairie, where it joins with the Cahaba River near...

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3. Archaeology at Late Mississippian Communities in the Alabama River Valley

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pp. 50-88

In the Alabama River valley, the long history of documented excavations at Late Mississippian sites dates back to the winter of 1899, when Philadelphia amateur archaeologist Clarence B. Moore directed his ship Gopher upriver from Mobile Bay. Although there is considerable time depth to archaeological...

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4. Late Mississippian Pottery in the Alabama River Valley

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pp. 89-128

The reviews of Late Mississippian sites and chronology of the Alabama River valley in the previous chapters demonstrated the need for more excavations and a better means of ceramic analysis that does not rely on mutually exclusive and exhaustive typologies. The data collected from the pottery assemblages...

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5. A New Picture of the Tascalusa Chiefdom before and after Contact

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pp. 129-140

The study of ceramic stylistic attributes at Late Mississippian sites in the Alabama drainage was designed to determine whether multivariate statistics could be used to successfully extract models of ceramic production. Once the style clusters were successfully extracted, correspondence analysis helped...


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pp. 141-158


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pp. 159-163

E-ISBN-13: 9780817387716
E-ISBN-10: 0817387714
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817318406
Print-ISBN-10: 0817318402

Page Count: 175
Illustrations: 45 illustrations
Publication Year: 2014