Mississippian Moundbuilders Art on Display Online

Mike Ruggeri’s Mississippian Moundbuilders Art Portfolio is an online exhibit showcasing the artistry of Native Americans living in the Midwest and Southeast. The online exhibit features Mississippian head pots, human effigy vessels, pottery, smoking pipes, shell art, and chunkey stones. The showcase also features Mississippian iconography which shows how the Native American cultures represented themselves.

The exhibit can be seen online here: Mike Ruggeri’s Mississippian Moundbuilders Art Portfolio

Native American artifacts on Pascagoulas Greenwood Island date to 1000 B.C

Greenwood Island on the western side of Bayou Casotte in Pascagoula has long been known for its Native American history. Now, archaeologists have dated that history to 1000 B.C., and said that pottery shards found there are the oldest known specimens uncovered on the Mississippi coast.

The findings were released by Carey Geiger, president of the Southwest Chapter of the Alabama Archaeological Society, based on his study of artifacts recovered from the island over 40 years by an unnamed Pascagoula searcher and during a 1997 excavation by University of South Alabama archaeologists from Mobile.

Geiger, a retired chemist with the Pascagoula Chevron Refinery, has been volunteering with the university’s Center for Archaeological Studies since 2006.

Geiger discussed his study during a presentation last week at the university, showcasing several of the artifacts, which include arrowheads and pieces of pottery.

Charcoal found with the pottery, discovered in the basal-clay layer of soil, was carbon dated to 1000 B.C., Geiger said.

“We traced it back to what we call the Norwood series of pottery,” also discovered in digs in northwest Florida, Geiger said. “It was the first Indian ceramics in this area, called fiber-tempered,” he said.

He explained that fiber-tempered pottery is created of clay and, most likely, Spanish moss and then heated by fire.

Geiger believes that the findings provide a key insight into Greenwood Island’s past.

“According to field notes, it was found only with oyster shell, charcoal and dirt,” he said. “It was right on the basal clay, which would indicate they were the first people there.”

The island is also historically significant in the context of the U.S. military. In 1848, the Army, returning from the Mexican-American War, chose Greenwood Island as a camp and hospital due to overflow from New Orleans. It was named Camp Jefferson Davis, and Geiger said as many as 20 soldiers may be buried there, based on an 1895 report by the government.

According to a representative with the Jackson County Historical Society, the remains of two soldiers were discovered on the island in 1979 and interred at Biloxi National Cemetery a decade later. Most recently, remains were discovered in two coffins during low tide, and are being studied by archaeologists with the University of Southern Mississippi.

Geiger also spoke about how tidal erosion and industrial encroachment specifically dredging have disturbed the island, damaging preservation efforts.

Although he said he is not an opponent of industrial development, he believes Greenwood Island to be of tremendous importance archaeologically especially considering the Native American findings.

“There was a very significant occupation from about 1000 B.C. to early A.D.,” he said. “It was very large.”

Ancient artifact unearthed at Angel Mounds

A new discovery unearthed at Angel Mounds near Evansville, Indiana is helping to reveal new secrets about this mysterious culture. The discovery is a pot which was found whole, a rare event in archaeology. From a newspaper article on the find:

An archaeology dig normally results in little more than dirt, rocks and pottery chards.

So, when the Indiana University Field School found an intact jar during a dig at Angel Mounds State Historic Site this spring, the group was really happy.

“That’s really rare for us. Normally, what we find are tiny, little broken-up pieces,” said Dru McGill, principal supervisor of excavation.

McGill added it was a spectacular find.

The jar is about 15 inches tall and 12 inches across and can hold about three gallons of water. The use of the jar by the Native Americans who once occupied the Angel Mounds site is unknown.

Read the entire article here: “History in a jar: Angel Mounds dig uncovers a major find.”

About Angel Mounds from Wikipedia:

Angel Mounds State Historic Site is located on the Ohio River in Vanderburgh and Warrick counties eight miles (13 km) southeast of Evansville and just upriver of the confluence of the Green and Ohio rivers…

From 1100 CE to 1450 CE, people of the Middle Mississippian culture built and lived in a town on this site. They were known for building characteristic earthwork mounds, with shapes including platform, conical and ridgetop (as seen at Cahokia.) Angel Mounds was a chiefdom (the base of the chief) and the regional center of a large residential and agricultural community that extended for several miles around. They built a major earthwork, working with a variety of soils to create a stable mass. The platform mound held their central community. They traded with other chiefdoms and peoples along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. This settlement was the largest-known town of its time in Indiana. Scholars believe the town may have contained as many as 1,000 inhabitants at its peak.

Read the full Wikipedia article here: Angel Mounds


Virtual First Ohioans

The Ohio Historical Society has a new online exhibit entitled Virtual First Ohioans which includes videos and photos of artifacts found at many of Ohio’s most important archaeological sites. The site covers every archaeological period in Ohio from the Archaic to the Woodland to the Mississippian. The exhibit includes extensive information on the most important cultures to have lived in Ohio including the Adena, Hopewell, and Mississippian cultures.

Visit the Virtual First Ohioans exhibit.

Head pots of Arkansas

A new book has collected photographs of every known Native American head pot in existence. Head pots are a very rare and unique form of pre-historic Native American pottery found almost exclusively in northeast Arkansas and the adjacent bootheel region of Missouri. They are distinguished from other native North American pottery in that the entire vessel is molded into the general shape of a human head, as opposed to facial features such as eyes, nose, and mouth simply being applied to the surface of a bottle or jar form. Artistically, head pots vary from crude to remarkably lifelike representations. Most are somewhat smaller than the head of a normal adult, averaging about five to six inches in height. Head pots are associated with the Late Mississippian Period to the time of European contact, dating about 1400 to 1700.

The new book, entitled The Headpots of Northeast Arkansas and Southern Pemiscot County, Missouri, is published by the University of Arkansas Press. Here’s a description from the publisher:

In 1981, James F. Cherry embarked on what evolved into a passionate, personal quest to identify and document all the known headpots of Mississippian Indian culture from northeast Arkansas and the bootheel region of southeast Missouri. Produced by two groups the Spanish called the Casqui and Pacaha and dating circa AD 1400–1700, headpots occur, with few exceptions, only in a small region of Arkansas and Missouri. Relatively little is known about these headpots: did they portray kinsmen or enemies, the living or the dead or were they used in ceremonies, in everyday life, or exclusively for the sepulcher?

Cherry’s decades of research have culminated in the lavishly illustrated The Headpots of Northeast Arkansas and Southern Pemiscot County, Missouri, a fascinating, comprehensive catalog of 138 identified classical style headpots and an invaluable resource for understanding the meaning of these remarkable ceramic vessels.

You can buy the book here.

South Florida Museum

Museum features many exhibits covering Native American prehistory in Florida beginning with the paleoindian time period. Also houses the world-renowned Montague Tallant Collection of Florida artifacts. Known as one of the premier collections of Florida aboriginal artifacts, the collection includes pottery, shell tools, lithics, beads, gold, silver, and other metals dating from the PaleoIndian period to the arrival of the Spanish explorers.

Is also home to a mastodon skeleton unearthed in the Aucilla River south of Tallahassee, Florida. This is the largest mastadon skeleton ever found in North America.

Back to Map of Florida Indian Sites

Internal Links:
Lost Worlds: Florida

Ancient Civilizations of Florida

External Links:
Le Moyne’s Florida Indians @ TheNewWorld.us

South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida @ TravelingAround.com (+video)

South Florida Museum

Carlos Museum

The Carlos Museum’s collection of art of the ancient Americas is substantial, consisting of more than 1,900 pieces: over 1,300 from the William C. and Carol W. Thibadeau collection and nearly 500 from the Laurence C. and Cora W. Witten II Collection. The Museum is fortunate in the breadth and depth of the collection as a whole. All three principal cultural centers of the Americas are represented: Mesoamerica, Central America, and the Andes. Most of the important art-producing cultures –from the West Mexico to the Maya and Aztec, from Honduras to Panama, from the Chavín to the Inca– can be appreciated during a visit to the permanent collection galleries. The Carlos Museum’s collections are unusually strong in ancient Costa Rica, featuring over 600 works from all periods.

Fernbank Museum

Fernbank’s signature exhibition, A Walk Through Time in Georgia, tells the two-fold story of Georgia’s natural history and the development of our planet. Sixteen galleries combine with theaters and dioramas to explain this complex and fascinating story. Explore the natural history of Georgia and the story of our planet as you journey through lifelike geographic regions and historic re-creations. Highlights include a dinosaur gallery, a giant sloth, a cave, and the modern-day sights and sounds of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Using pottery as a lens, Conveyed in Clay: Stories from St. Catherines Island explores 5,000 years of human history, from the oldest pots discovered in North America to the introduction of Spanish majolica in the mission era.

Featuring a selection of objects from the St. Catherines Island Foundation and Edward John Noble Foundation Collection, this new permanent exhibition examines how Native Americans adapted to changes in natural and cultural conditions through the evolution of their pottery. From the invention of simple pinch pots to the progressive engineering of more advanced coil pots, visitors will explore the innovative designs and the introduction of decorative embellishment as cultures interacted.