In Mississippian Culture Heroes, Ritual Regalia, and Sacred Bundles, archaeologists analyze evidence of the religious beliefs and ritual practices of Mississippian people through the lens of indigenous ontologies and material culture. Employing archaeological, ethnographic, and ethnohistoric evidence, the contributors explore the recent emphasis on iconography as an important component for interpreting eastern North America’s ancient past. The research in this volume emphasizes the animistic nature of animals and objects, erasing the false divide between people and other-than-human beings. Drawing on an array of empirical approaches, the contributors demonstrate the importance of understanding beliefs and ritual and the significance of investigating how people in the past practiced religion and ritual by crafting, circulating, using, and ultimately decommissioning material items and spaces, including ceramic effigies, rock art, sacred bundles, shell gorgets, stone figurines, and symbolic weaponry.
David H. Dye is professor of archaeology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Memphis.
Introduction: An Archaeology of Mississippian Ritual Practices
Part I Sacred Bundles
Chapter 1: Dressing and Caring for the Spirits: The Role of Sacred Bundles in Siouan Society
Chapter 2: Ritual Languages of the Southeast: Sacred Bundles in the Memory Theaters of Mississippian Period Ritualism
Chapter 3: Nested Bundles Within Etowah’s Mound C
Chapter 4: “Cradleboard Figurines” Or Icons of Sacred Bundles?
Chapter 5: Regalia and Sacred Bundles from Mound 1 at the Castalian Spring Mounds, Tennessee
Part II Other-Than-Human Persons and Ritual Caches
Chapter 6: The Link Farm Cache: Invoking the Ancestors and Supplicating the Hero Twins
Chapter 7: Earth Mother in the Middle Cumberland, Beneath World Powers, and a Portal to the Otherworld
Chapter 8: Medicine for the Dead: Shell Gorgets as Accompaniments for Rites of Passage
Part III Elite Regalia
Chapter 9: Hair, Hats, and Headdresses as Symbolic Regalia in Missouri Rock Art
Chapter 10: Caddo Regalia in Context: Historic and Ethnographic Examples
Chapter 11: Mississippian Regalia at Lake Jackson: Elaborate Finery, Insignia of Office, Ritual Paraphernalia, and Material Symbols of Elite Status
Mississippian Culture Heroes, Ritual Regalia, and Sacred Bundles is an essential read for archaeologists researching and thinking about Mississippian symbols. It addresses important and timely issues, such as the use and depiction of ceremonial bundles and ritual regalia, as well as the significance of culture heroes and other-than-human persons in Mississippian belief systems and cosmologies. Certain chapters also focus on under-discussed mound centers, such as the Castalian Springs, Link Farm, and Lake Jackson sites, in ways that alter our understanding of these Mississippian communities. Additionally, its chapters engage in pertinent discussions about how Mississippian symbols were intertwined with ceremonial practices and memory in ways that are sure to influence future archaeological analyses.