Archaeology of Ritual in Cherokee Towns of the Southern Appalachians

Author(s): Michelle Pigott; Christopher Rodning

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Silenced Rituals in Indigenous North American Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Ritual and ceremonialism were important domains of practice through which Cherokee peoples of the southern Appalachians maintained cultural identities during the aftermath of European contact in the Americas, and through which Cherokee towns responded to the opportunities and challenges associated with European exploration, colonization, trade, diplomacy, and violence. Written accounts and maps associated with Spanish exploration and English trading activities offer clues about Cherokee town locations, and basic characteristics of Cherokee economy, political organization, social dynamics, and religion. Written accounts of Cherokee oral tradition, as recorded in the 1700s and 1800s, also lend insight into Cherokee religion and ritual. This paper relates these forms of ethnohistoric evidence to archaeological evidence about earthen mounds, public architecture and cycles of building and rebuilding public structures known as townhouses, production and circulation of marine shell beads and pendants with engraved iconography, mortuary practices, and smoking, including smoking associated with calumet ceremonialism.

Cite this Record

Archaeology of Ritual in Cherokee Towns of the Southern Appalachians. Michelle Pigott, Christopher Rodning. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450672)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25549