From Emergence to Beginnings
Nearly a quarter century has passed since Smith’s (1990) seminal volume The Mississippian Emergence was published. That volume, through a set of collected works, was the first to attempt a region-wide synthesis of what was known and thought about Mississippian origins. This introductory chapter contextualizes the work of the contributing authors in several ways. We begin by defining some key terms used throughout the chapters and volume, and then we examine the history of grand theory and paradigmatic shifts in the study of Mississippian origins to illuminate the routes that led to today’s thinking. This section includes an assessment of the current status of social theory in Mississippian studies. Special emphasis is placed on a discussion of cultural entanglements, a topic common to most of the contributions and that addresses the ways in which the various regional traditions that archaeologists recognize as Mississippian were negotiated. The final section considers the broad sweep of Mississippianization and its impacts on later developments across the Eastern Woodlands.
Keywords: region-wide synthesis, Mississippian origins, history of grand theory and paradigmatic shifts, social theory, Mississippian studies, cultural entanglements, regional traditions, Mississippianization, Eastern Woodlands
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