Ambiguous Iconography: Queering the Shell Game

Author(s): Dawn Rutecki

Year: 2015


This paper queers archaeological interpretation by unpacking and destabilizing underlying assumptions in Southeastern iconography. While not focusing expressly on sexuality or gender in these representations, this research discusses the ways ambiguities in engraved shell iconography, more broadly, have been dismissed, glossed, and deemphasized. In part, this exclusion is unintentional and results from the amount of research that remains to be conducted on the vast body of images, but we need to more fully consider the implications of these monolithic interpretations. Using iconography from Spiro Mounds, Oklahoma, this paper begins to bridge the gap through feminist and queer readings of these images, providing alternative possibilities for their interpretation and a better understanding of their use in Spiro society.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Ambiguous Iconography: Queering the Shell Game. Dawn Rutecki. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395585)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;