Materializing Cahokia Shamans

Thomas E Emerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the iconographic and symbolic ramifications of a number of carved flint clay figure pipes manufactured at the large pre-Columbian center of Cahokia during the twelfth century. Shamanistic practices are generally accepted as underlying the religious systems of virtually all native societies of the New World. This shamanic core includes a number of commonalties, such as altered states of consciousness, ritual accoutrements, spirit helpers, soul flight, and animal and gender transformations. Motifs on some Cahokia effigy pipes represent many of these shamanic practices, indicating that shamanic practices comprised a significant aspect of early Cahokian religious activities and organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-154
Number of pages20
JournalSoutheastern Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology


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