Reconsidering Mississippian Communal Food Consumption: A Case for Feasting at Moundville


Consuming food as a large group in a ritual context generates and reaffirms the social obligations of the participants and the sponsors of the ceremony. This paper evaluates models for feasting from the Mississippian center of Moundville, located in west-central Alabama. Feasting has not been documented in midden assemblages from the site because a wide range of ceramic vessel sizes and a diverse range of faunal species have been recovered. This indicated that the consumption of symbolic species and materials by influential individuals in a mound context was emphasized over communal aspects of social organization. This paper evaluates these models by synthesizing vessel morphological and functional analyses with faunal analysis from newly excavated mound midden assemblages dating from A.D. 1400-1550. Around A.D. 1450, the settlement pattern in the region shifted and certain ritual practices were emphasized as others fell out of favor, suggesting there was a change in social organization. This paper demonstrates that there was a greater range of mound-top food consumption activities occurring during this time than previously documented. This newly observed pattern of food consumption in a ritual context at a large ceremonial center has implications for the communal nature of social organization in prehistoric Southeastern societies.

Cite this Record

Reconsidering Mississippian Communal Food Consumption: A Case for Feasting at Moundville. Erik Porth, J. Lynn Funkhouser, Susan Scott, John Blitz. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428990)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16895