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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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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 17 February 2020

Caves as Mortuary Contexts in the Southeast

Caves as Mortuary Contexts in the Southeast

(p.270) 14 Caves as Mortuary Contexts in the Southeast
Mississippian Mortuary Practices

Jan F. Simek

Alan Cressler

University Press of Florida

From early in the history of European settlement in the Southeast, it was observed that the region's caves and karsts were used by the ancients as places for interring the dead. At the dawn of the nineteenth century, discoveries in the deep caves of Tennessee and Kentucky caught the imagination of the American intelligentsia. Sites in Kentucky and in Tennessee yielded extraordinary evidence of past use as mortuaries, and as time went on, it became clear that the complexity of prehistoric cave use was considerable, including use as burial locales. Despite this growing evidence for complexity, however, archaeologists only rarely concerned themselves with cave burials in considering regional mortuary practices. Cave burials were clearly solemn and significant for the people who produced them and they were distinctive in relation to contemporary exterior interments. This essay discusses historical views of archaeological caves in Appalachia from 1800 to 1950, current research on Southeastern cave burials (1950 to the present), and human burials and cave art.

Keywords:   Southeast, archaeological caves, mortuaries, mortuary practices, cave burials, cave art, Appalachia, Kentucky, Tennessee, interments

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