Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology
Maria O. Smith
Middle Mississippian is a both a cultural and temporal (1200 CE – 1400 CE) archaeological context of Midwestern North America. This cultural tradition is associated with mound building, specific art motifs, arguably stratified societies, intensive agriculture, and specific ritual/mortuary practices. Burial sites can be very valuable to archaeologists because of the purposeful interaction between the living and the deceased and reconstruct cultural elements such as social identity and group membership. While American archaeology continues to be fieldwork-focused, there are a considerable amount of cultural resources housed in museum collections that could provide data for research into pre-Columbian lifeways in North America. This project used archived excavation information from past fieldwork to ask modern contextual questions about sites that are archaeologically inaccessible. These field notes and reports as well as a recent inventory of the curated human osteological remains were used to analyze the mortuary patterns (e.g., grave accompaniments, burial orientation, burial location, segregation by age or sex) of nine Middle Mississippian period sites from what is now the Kentucky Lake reservoir of west-central Tennessee. Among the results of the mortuary assessment is the recognition that sex, rather than rank or social role, is a primary identity marker.
Wamsley, Brooke Adele, "Mortuary Patterns in West-Central Tennessee: Contextualizing Historic Field Data from Nine Mississippian Period Sites" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 896.