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Mississippian Mortuary PracticesBeyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective$
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Lynne P. Sullivan and Robert C. Mainfort

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813034263

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813034263.001.0001

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Mississippian Mortuary Practices and the Quest for Interpretation

Mississippian Mortuary Practices and the Quest for Interpretation

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Mississippian Mortuary Practices and the Quest for Interpretation
Source:
Mississippian Mortuary Practices
Author(s):

Lynne P. Sullivan

Lynne P. Mainfqrt Jr.

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813034263.003.0001

Mississippian Period (ca. A.D. 900–1500) native peoples in the southeastern and midwestern United States are known for towns that typically include platform mounds and plazas and for elaborate and well-crafted copper and shell ornaments, pottery vessels, and stonework. Some of these objects were socially valued goods that often were placed in ritual contexts, such as graves, within or near Mississippian towns. The interment of elaborate funerary objects with some Mississippian individuals naturally led scholars to ask questions about social inequities in Mississippian societies. The intellectual bridges that connect archaeologically observed mortuary practices with the social behaviors of past populations are of significant interest to archaeologists, and the study of Mississippian mortuary sites was instrumental in the development of archaeological mortuary theory. New perspectives, such as the notions of cultural pluralism that inform the interpretation of diverse ethnic groups bound together at Cahokia or interpretations of burial rituals as theatrical ideological tableaus, are influencing the interpretations of Mississippian social practices.

Keywords:   Mississippian Period, ethnic groups, United States, mounds, graves, interment, funerary objects, burial rituals, social practices, mortuary practices

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