Cahokia: Domination and Ideology in the Mississippian World

By Timothy R. Pauketat; Thomas E. Emerson | Go to book overview

Lucretia S. Kelly


4
Patterns of Faunal
Exploitation at Cahokia

About A.D. 1050 a sudden change in the social structure of the Cahokia site occurred with an abrupt consolidation of the Cahokia region into a political hierarchy (Pauketat 1991, 1994a). Pauketat (1994a, 37) hypothesizes that as a result of this political development there should have been a “qualitative shift in all aspects of social life and in the residues derived from elitecontrolled exchange networks.” The elite, those individuals at the top of the hierarchy, would not have been self-sufficient. They were non-food-producing specialists who would need to be provisioned with food. This differential access to food resources between the non-food-producing elite and the foodproducing general populace should be evident in the faunal assemblages they generated.

By the Emergent Mississippian Edelhardt phase (A.D. 1000–1050), data suggest inhabitants of Cahokia were either being provisioned with deer meat by persons outside the site or they were procuring deer themselves at a distance from the site, returning with only the meatiest portions (Esarey and Pauketat 1992; L. Kelly 1979, 1990b, 1991). It has been demonstrated at other Mississippian chiefdoms in the Southeast (Moundville, Toqua, and Lubbub) that the elite or individuals of higher status were being provisioned with specific, high-quality cuts of deer meat (Bogan 1980; Jackson and Scott 1995; Michals 1990; Scott 1983). Other differences in the faunal assemblage related to status were also observed, particularly at Moundville, where an increase in medium-sized mammals and an increase in the amount of bird, particularly turkey, was found in faunal assemblages from elite contexts (Michals 1990).

Advances in zooarchaeological method and theory have led to the more accurate identification of cultural and taphonomic processes that contribute

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