chapter  10
28 Pages

The Mississippian Period, ad 950–1600

WithAlice Beck Kehoe

Mississippian societies flourished in the rich, broad valleys of the major rivers of the physiographic Gulf Coastal Plain, the head of which lies at St Louis where the Missouri flows into the Mississippi. The Mississippian period has two phases, that of Cahokia, ninth to mid-thirteenth century, and then that of many small kingdoms. Cahokia’s heyday was the time of climatologists’ Medieval Warm Episode, climate ideal for the Southern race of maize grown at Cahokia. Underlining the importance of ideological goads in the formation of Cahokia are a pair of figurines associated with what seems to have been a suburban community temple near the city. Fine ceramic serving bowls, mica, galena, red cedar, and hallucinogenic jimson weed, and lack of ordinary domestic debris, indicates the special function of the building. The same archaeologist refused to consider as possible evidence of Mexican contacts, the filed teeth of a few Cahokia-area skeletons, dismissing their intriguing similarity to Mexican fashion of the period.