Test your knowledge with a quiz
Mississippian shell neck ornament (gorget)
- 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?
Smarthistory images for teaching and learning:
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