Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective

By Lynne P. Sullivan; Robert C. Mainfort Jr. | Go to book overview

14
Caves as Mortuary Contexts in the Southeast

JAN F. SIMEK AND ALAN CRESSLER

From early in the history of European settlement in the Southeast, it was observed that the region’s caves and karsts were used by the ancients as places for interring the dead. At the dawn of the nineteenth century, discoveries in the deep caves of Tennessee and Kentucky caught the imagination of the American intelligentsia, leading to intensive efforts to uncover the remarkable treasures that Appalachia’s caves clearly held hidden within their fastnesses. In 1811, for example, there was an impressive find of the bones of a giant ground sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii) in Big Bone Cave, Tennessee, which site was named for the discovery. This skeleton, now curated at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, represents the only known specimen of a giant ground sloth with a complete pelvis (Mercer 1897). As we shall see, human remains were also discovered in Big Bone Cave at about the same time. Other sites in Kentucky and in Tennessee yielded extraordinary evidence of past use as mortuaries, and as time went on, it became clear that the complexity of prehistoric cave use was considerable (Watson 1969, 1974), including use as burial locales. Despite this growing evidence for complexity, however, archaeologists only rarely concerned themselves with cave burials in considering regional mortuary practices.

Yet the prehistoric use of caves as burial places in the Appalachian Plateau region was remarkable and significant. Beginning in the Archaic Period, increasing in the Woodland Period, and culminating in the Mississippian Period, cave burials represent a varied set of contexts that link mortuary practices with complex ritual behaviors including elaborate preparation of the remains, extensive illumination of the cave burial locations, and in some cases, the production of specific parietal art motifs. Cave burials were clearly solemn and significant for the people who produced them and they were distinctive in relation to contemporary exterior interments. Understanding caves as mortuary contexts in the Southeast is thus central to understanding aspects of ancient culture that archaeologists traditionally see in mortuary behavior: social stratification, class, and religion, among other things.

-270-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 350

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.