Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who got here first? Missippian culture.

Did you know that parts of Tennessee, especially in the west, were settled by an early native American culture called Missippean.  This culture came in three phases:  Early Missippean culture, which flourished from around 500-1000 B.C, the Middle Missippean period, from about 1200-1400 B.C., and the Late Missippian period, from about 1400 B.C. to the time that Europeans came.   

During the first period, different groups of native Americans transitioned from very small local tribe based societies to a more complex society.  They emerged from and became distinct from another culture, known as the Woodland culture.  Regional chiefdoms developed, as well as distinct centers of population.  This was supported by the culture's production of surplus corn. There is some debate about just how far regional cheifdoms extended.   

During the middle period, the culture developed to its peak.  Along with this development of the society, the people's art and symbolism developed, too.

Alas, during the third period, the culture was characterized by more political turmoil, as well as by increasing warfare.  It's possible that the society declined due to what was  known as the Little Ice Age and resulting drought and crop failures.  The population shifted away from the major centers as people sought land that was neither overhunted or overdeveloped.

One feature that we associate with this Missippean culture are the many mounds constructed throughout the midwest and the south.  You can see an example of this near Franklin in Williamson County.

  

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