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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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The Materialization of Status and Social Structure at Koger’s Island Cemetery, Alabama

The Materialization of Status and Social Structure at Koger’s Island Cemetery, Alabama

(p.145) 9 The Materialization of Status and Social Structure at Koger’s Island Cemetery, Alabama
Mississippian Mortuary Practices

Jon Bernard Marcqux

University Press of Florida

This essay addresses the current shift in explanatory frameworks used to interpret the mortuary practices of Mississippian societies by offering an alternative interpretation of the mortuary practices materialized at the Koger's Island site, a Mississippian cemetery located in the middle Tennessee River Valley of northern Alabama. It considers the interpretation of Christopher Peebles, who analyzed the Koger's Island cemetery using the Binford-Saxe mortuary program and the socio-evolutionary concept of the ranked society. It tests the relationship between social structure and mortuary practices by using a Binford-Saxe-type analysis that focuses on burial types, variability in the distribution of artifacts, and the spatial arrangement of graves within the Koger's Island cemetery. It concludes that the hierarchical status of individuals appears to have been based on achievement rather than inheritance. Based on the spatial distribution of interments and funerary objects, the mortuary practices of the local community were more likely structured by a form of dual social structure in that these practices marked either the membership of the deceased in one of two corporate kin groups or their status as an “outsider.”

Keywords:   mortuary practices, Mississippian cemetery, Koger's Island, cemetery, Alabama, Christopher Peebles, Binford-Saxe mortuary program, social structure, artifacts, graves

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