The Mississippian World
A little more than 1000 years ago, a culture began developing in the Southeast that was to last more than 700 years. Centuries later, archeologists recognized widespread similarities in the archeological remnants of this culture and gave it the name Mississippian. Although the name comes from the river valley that is sometimes described as the "heartland," Mississippian culture stretched across a quarter of the continent.

From Oklahoma to Georgia, from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, people enjoyed roughly similar lifestyles. They farmed, cultivating corn, beans, and squash. Their homes stood in towns, villages, hamlets or farmsteads, surrounded by their fields. In some communities, settlements were fortified with palisades or moat/embankment complexes, hinting at on-going conflict. Hereditary chiefs and aristocrats held sway over commoners; the most important people lived in large houses on the summits of flat-topped pyramidal mounds in the larger settlements. Although most of these platform mounds were about 10 feet high, some reached 60 or more feet tall. An extensive trade network existed — marine shells from the Gulf Coast have been found in Oklahoma and copper from the Appalachian Mountains has been found in coastal Florida. And, confirming the widespread connections throughout the Mississippian world, shared religious symbols appear at far-flung towns.

Chickasawba Mound

The Chickasawba Mound, a site only a few miles from Eaker


Bottle Decoration

Decoration off of a Mississippian Bottle


Mississippian ear or lip plug


Jar fragment with punctations and a handle

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Copyright ©2012 Arkansas Archeological Survey, Revised - April 2012
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