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Mississippian shell neck ornament (gorget)
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- In the centuries before European contact, Native Americans built networks of cities that shared technologies, belief systems, and cultural forms.
- This Mississippian gorget, made from a shell found in the Gulf of Mexico, but discovered in a burial mound in Tennessee, demonstrates the extensive exchange between native peoples in different geographic regions before European contact.
- Mississippian Society, which flourished between 800 and 1500 C.E. in Eastern North America, was united by the widespread production of corn, shared ideologies, and towns that often featured platform mounds.
- The representation of Morning Star reflects a shared cosmology where the Earth is situated between an underworld and a sky world, and this is reinforced by the shell’s circular shape and incised circles that may suggest a cycle of life, death, and regeneration.
More to think about
This gorget was found in a burial mound, marking the owner as possibly an important founder of Castalian Springs. Why do you think this particular object might have been included in his burial?
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