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Rethinking Moundville and Its Hinterland$
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Vincas P. Steponaitis and C. Margaret Scarry

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813061665

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813061665.001.0001

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Moundville Palettes—Prestige Goods or Inalienable Possessions?

Moundville Palettes—Prestige Goods or Inalienable Possessions?

(p.121) 7 Moundville Palettes—Prestige Goods or Inalienable Possessions?
Rethinking Moundville and Its Hinterland

Vincas P. Steponaitis

University Press of Florida

Finely crafted objects at Mississippian centers have often been regarded as prestige goods, which were given as gifts or exchanged in social transactions designed to build alliances and to enhance prestige. Focusing on one such class of objects, I argue that carved stone palettes were ritual gear kept in bundles, which suggests that they could not have been exchanged or freely given as gifts. Their abundance at Moundville suggests many practitioners of this ritual lived there. Moreover, their widespread distribution suggests Moundville was a place of pilgrimage, where elites from distant places travelled to acquire ritual knowledge and power.

Keywords:   Mississippian, palettes, prestige goods, ritual gear

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