“An excellent volume that demonstrates a more explicit, nuanced, and careful approach to interpreting the social lives of these past communities. An indispensable resource.”—Paul D. Welch, author of Archaeology at Shiloh Indian Mounds, 1899–1999
“Provides much-needed updated perspectives on the origins of the Mississippian archaeological cultural phenomenon in the Southeast. The contributions to the volume present new information including the results of recent fieldwork and investigations of legacy collections considered within contemporary interpretive frameworks that emphasize agency, social lives, and historical contingency.”—Sissel Schroeder, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Using fresh evidence and nontraditional ideas, the contributing authors of Mississippian Beginnings reconsider the origins of the Mississippian culture of the North American Midwest and Southeast (A.D. 1000–1600). Challenging the decades-old opinion that this culture evolved similarly across isolated Woodland populations, they discuss signs of migrations, missionization, pilgrimages, violent conflicts, long-distance exchange, and other far-flung entanglements that now appear to have shaped the early Mississippian past.
Presenting recent fieldwork from a wide array of sites including Cahokia and the American Bottom, archival studies, and new investigations of legacy collections, the contributors interpret results through contemporary perspectives that emphasize agency and historical contingency. They track the various ways disparate cultures across a sizeable swath of the continent experienced Mississippianization and came to share similar architecture, pottery, subsistence strategies, sociopolitical organization, iconography, and religion. Together, these essays provide the most comprehensive examination of early Mississippian culture in over thirty years.
Gregory D. Wilson, associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of The Archaeology of Everyday Life at Early Moundville.