ANT-2100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Serpent Mound, Upper Paleolithic, Monks Mound

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14 Nov 2016
Ideology, Symbolism, and Cosmology in the Past
an object or an act (verbal or nonverbal) that by cultural convention stands for
something with which it has no necessary connection
because of this disconnect, the same symbol can be used in different ways
depending on the cultural context
how can an outsider know the meaning of a particular symbol?
difficult to understand symbols archaeologically
physical symbol survives in archaeological record, meaning does not
must make sure we’re not giving the symbol a meaning based solely on
what it looks like
ex: Venus figurine
said to symbolize fertility - have to analyze the context in which it was found
in order to determine true meaning
upper paleolithic period
ex: serpent mound, Ohio
interpreting symbols - context is key
ways it is used
where it is found
associated with female/male?
associated with adults/children?
study/understanding of the origin, large-scale structure, and future of the
a cosmological explanation demonstrates how the universe developed and
describes what principles keep it together
iconography: art forms or writing systems that symbolically represent ideas
about religion or cosmology
Mississippian Period ~ AD 850-1450
Monks Mound, Cahokia
most sites aligned along rivers
ex: copper plate - bird man effigy, shell gorgets, statues, head-pots
“Stone Graves Race” - Thruston 1897
middle Tennessee
graves lines in limestone rocks & slabs
limsteones neutralizes acidity of soil, preserves artifacts and bones (except
for organic materials)
“Middle Cumberland Culture” - Ferguson
the people are more than their burial style
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