Ash Deposition and Community Building in the Mississippian World: A Case Study from the Yazoo Basin
Author(s): Erin Nelson
Ethnographic sources indicate that fire and its alternate forms—smoke and ash—are powerfully symbolic substances for many historic period southeastern Indian groups. The remains of fire are frequently deposited in ways that amplify its power, or alternatively, attempt to neutralize it. This paper examines ash deposition at Parchman Place, a late Mississippi period (AD 1300-1541) site located in the northern Yazoo Basin. Here, and elsewhere in the Southeast, Mississippian people incorporated ash and other substances with cultural significance into earthworks of differing scales and types. Drawing on ethnohistoric and ethnographic accounts regarding the importance of fire and the disposal of its remains, I argue that people called upon the various powers of fire by depositing ash in specific ways and at key transitional moments. In doing so, Mississippian people attempted to negotiate differing views regarding leadership, relations among community members, and the importance of maintaining their place within the Mississippian cosmos.
Cite this Record
Ash Deposition and Community Building in the Mississippian World: A Case Study from the Yazoo Basin. Erin Nelson. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443951)
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min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;
Abstract Id(s): 21484