Visualizing the Sacred: Cosmic Visions, Regionalism, and the Art of the Mississippian World

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University of Texas Press, Jan 15, 2011 - Social Science - 357 pages
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The prehistoric native peoples of the Mississippi River Valley and other areas of the Eastern Woodlands of the United States shared a complex set of symbols and motifs that constituted one of the greatest artistic traditions of the pre-Columbian Americas. Traditionally known as the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, these artifacts of copper, shell, stone, clay, and wood were the subject of the groundbreaking 2007 book Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms: Interpretations of Mississippian Iconography, which presented a major reconstruction of the rituals, cosmology, ideology, and political structures of the Mississippian peoples.

Visualizing the Sacred advances the study of Mississippian iconography by delving into the regional variations within what is now known as the Mississippian Iconographic Interaction Sphere (MIIS). Bringing archaeological, ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and iconographic perspectives to the analysis of Mississippian art, contributors from several disciplines discuss variations in symbols and motifs among major sites and regions across a wide span of time and also consider what visual symbols reveal about elite status in diverse political environments. These findings represent the first formal identification of style regions within the Mississippian Iconographic Interaction Sphere and call for a new understanding of the MIIS as a network of localized, yet interrelated religious systems that experienced both continuity and change over time.

 

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Contents

Middle Mississippi Valley
35
Lower Mississippi Valley
97
Cumberland Valley
135
Moundville
199
Etowah and Upper Tennessee Valley
277
Bibliography
321
Contributors
347
Index
349
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About the author (2011)

GEORGE E. LANKFORD is an emeritus professor of folklore at Lyon College. His books include Looking for Lost Lore: Studies in Folklore, Ethnology, and Iconography and Reachable Stars: Patterns in the Ethnoastronomy of Eastern North America.

F. KENT REILLY III is Director of the Center for the Arts and Symbolism of Ancient America at Texas State University–San Marcos.

JAMES F. GARBER is Professor of Anthropology at Texas State University–San Marcos.

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