Warfare in the Mississippian World: Comparing Variation in War across Small and Multi-Mound Centers

Author(s): Mallorie Hatch

Year: 2017


Warfare during the Mississippian Period (ca. AD 1000-1500) of the U.S. Midcontinent and Southeast has been hypothesized as an important political and social practice throughout the region. This paper will explore diachronic and synchronic evidence of warfare, comparing and contrasting evidence between large and small sites. Particular emphasis will be placed on observations of warfare patterns in the Central Illinois Valley of west-central Illinois. Skeletal remains with warfare-trauma have been infrequently recovered from large multi-mound centers like Moundville and Cahokia. While skeletal trauma is found in low frequencies at these sites, large-scale fortifications and warrior iconography on portable art objects represent important evidence of war’s importance. In contrast, warfare-related skeletal trauma has been recovered in the highest frequencies from small and medium-sized Mississippian villages and towns. Available evidence indicates that war may have functioned differently between the periphery and mound centers. The large size of and fortifications surrounding mound centers may have dissuaded ambushing enemies, creating more coordinated attacks. Warfare also served as a coercive threat, curbing the aspirations of loosely consolidated chiefs and reinforcing ideological dominance at large centers. Ambush warfare may have been more endemic at smaller sites due to a reduced defensive capacity.

Cite this Record

Warfare in the Mississippian World: Comparing Variation in War across Small and Multi-Mound Centers. Mallorie Hatch. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431862)


Geographic Keywords
North America - Midwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16470